Cookbook review by Tracey Zabar
Gingerbread Wonderland is a little book bursting with charming creations for you to make: Perhaps a cookie townhouse, a chocolate birdhouse, or tiny gingerbread mug toppers for your hot cocoa? Maybe you can dig out your bundt pan to bake pain d’epices, a spicy cake drizzled with a rich chocolate-orange glaze.
Today’s recipe makes an entire family of adorable gingerbread people. Serve them plain or let your inner child come out and go wild decorating. Merry Christmas!
Enter to win Gingerbread Wonderland! Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Gingerbread Wonderland" and you'll be entered to win. The winner will be selected randomly on 12/28/17 and will be contacted by email. (Note: Gingerbread Wonderland can be sent to the 50 United States and DC, age 18+ only.)
There is something very irresistible about gingerbread folk. Their wry little smiles and “catch me if you can” demeanor brings a smile to your face whatever your age. Better still, they keep kids entertained for hours!
1 x quantity of Light Gingerbread Dough. Halve the dough once made and add ½ cup of cocoa powder to one half
1 x quantity of Royal Icing
YOU WILL NEED
a set of gingerbread family cutters
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper.
2. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and roll out one of the doughs on top of it to 1/4 inch. Using gingerbread men, women, and children cutters, cut out pieces of dough and use a palette knife to transfer them to the lined baking sheets. Leave space for them to spread a little. Repeat with the second gingerbread dough.
3. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes until hard. Bake in the oven in batches for 6 to 10 minutes depending on size, until golden brown at the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pans, then carefully transfer with a palette knife to wire racks to cool completely.
4. Add a little water to the royal icing until you reach a soft peak consistency. Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Decorate the gingerbread people with the icing and colored chocolates.
Dip some of the chocolate gingerbread figures in melted chocolate to create chocolate skirts or trousers!
Light Gingerbread Dough
This is a mild and sweet, light dough that is very versatile.
½ cup light molasses, golden syrup, or honey
1 cup light brown sugar
14 tablespoons (1 stick + 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
zest of 1 lemon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 lightly beaten large free-range egg
1. Pour the light molasses into a large saucepan with the sugar, butter, zest, and spices and melt over low/medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to boiling point. Remove from the heat and beat in the baking soda. The mixture will froth up at this point as the baking soda reacts—mix briefly until combined, then let cool for 15 minutes.
3. Sift the flour and salt, then fold into the mixture in batches, using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer: Beat in the egg using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer, until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture, or the cookies will spread during baking.
4. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but do not add any flour. Scrape out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead together until just smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 lightly beaten large egg white
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water
Sift the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the beaten egg white and lemon juice.
2. Whisk on low speed, so you do not incorporate too much air into the icing, for 2 to 3 minutes until you have a smooth, but not wet, stiff peak consistency . It should be dense and spreadable but hold a stiff peak. If it looks dry and crumbly, add a little water. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little extra confectioners’ sugar.
3. You now have stiff peak icing for sticking houses together and placing decorations onto icing. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. The icing can be prepared ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
You can adjust this icing to make soft peak and flood icing:
• Soft peak – Add a drop of water at a time until you have icing that holds a soft peak but does not spread on its own. Use for piping lines, borders, and decorations.
• Flood icing – Add a teaspoon of water at a time until you have a thick but runny icing that smooths out on its own within 15 seconds but not so runny that it runs off the edge of your cookie. Use for filling in outlined areas of cookies.
Each recipe will give directions on which type of icing you will need.
Excerpted from Gingerbread Wonderland by Mima Sinclair (Kyle Books). Copyright © 2015 Mima Sinclair. Photographs Copyright © 2015 Tara Fisher