I made these cookies a week ago and kept them in the refrigerator without icing them first. I iced them this afternoon as I was intending to give them tomorrow to friends as part of my Christmas baked give-aways. I must admit that I wasn't too thrill when they were first baked but the taste of the spices developed in the next few days and the cookies were really delicious and soft.
This is my first attempt at icing cookies so it was somewhat amatuerish. I also used two of the Christmas cookie cutters that I had bought recently just for Christmas, a snowflake and Christmas tree cutter.
(Makes 24 large cookies)
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg instead)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
226g unsalted butter
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large (60g) eggs
2/3 cup molasses
Makes 6 cups
(Recipe from Martha Stewart)
450g icing sugar
5 Tbsp meringue powder or 1/4 cup pasteurized egg whites
2 Tbsp water
Combine icing sugar and meringue powder (or egg whites) in a mixing bowl and beat on low speed. Add water drop by drop. The amount depends on whether you used the powder or the egg whites, and on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen. Add the water slowly and do not let the mixture get runny - you will probably not use all of it. Beat until the mixture holds a trail on the surface for five seconds when you raise the mixer from the bowl. If you like, you can tint the icing with a few drops of food coloring.
1) In a large bowl, sift and combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Stir well to mix.
2) Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until well mixed, about 1 minute.
3) Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Scrape down bowl and beater.
4) Lower speed and beat in about half the flour mixture. Beat in all the molasses then scrape bowl and beater. Add the remaining flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, and beat after each addition until it has been absorbed.
5) Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the dough a final mixing with a large rubber spatula. Scrape half the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and press it to about a 1/2" thickness. Wrap the dough securely and repeat with the remaining dough. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days. (If you are rush for time, do like what I did, stick the dough in the freezer for about 20 - 30 minutes)
6) When you are ready to bake the cookies, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 176C (350F).
7) Unwrap one of the pieces of dough and cut it in half. Rewrap one of the halves and return it to the refrigerator.
8) On a floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 1/4" thick. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut the cookies. As they are cut, place the cut cookies on the prepared pan lined with parchment paper with about 1" between them on all sides. Repeat with the remaining dough. Save, press together, and reroll the scraps (they don't need to be chilled agian before rerolling).
9) Bake cookies for about 11 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire racks.