Merry Christmas Eve friends! If you celebrate Christmas, then you are probably in full holiday swing, starting today.
I like to really live it up all month, so we’ve been doing fun little things all month to feel the full Christmas spirit, and we’ve had a great month doing so.
One of my favorite traditions we like to keep every year is cookie making. Rob has an old family recipe for shortbread cookies that we make, and then my favorite is gingerbread. Judah hasn’t quite decided on a favorite of his own yet, but I’m sure in time he will have his own request and we’ll get to make three batches throughout the month, one for each of us.
I always like to pass on a great recipe I find online, and this gingerbread cookie one is perfect. I wish I had my own tried and true recipe, but sadly I have not yet mastered a recipe of my own. But I’m ok with that. As my baking skills can sometimes lack in quality, I prefer to copy, and then perfect, a professional’s recipe for this sort of thing!
I randomly googled a few and decided to try this one out. This website is called Lil Luna, and I had not come across it before, but I’m so glad I did. This lady is fantastic and she has such a wonderful recipe box to go through. I can’t wait to check out more of her stuff!
Here is the recipe ingredients and instructions copied and pasted exactly from her site. Or here’s the online recipe to go directly to it. (I made the cookies exactly as listed below. I did however make my own simpler icing. See below in picture comments.)
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 32 cookies
Author Lil’ Luna
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the cookies
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger, or use 2 tsp for a stronger flavor
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
2 tsp clear corn syrup
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 – 2 tbsp milk or cream
1. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, baking soda and salt.
2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Then beat in the egg, vanilla and molasses.
3. Carefully beat in the flour mixture until it’s all incorporated.
4. Divide the dough in 2, form each half into a round disc, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
6. Work with one ball of dough at a time. If the dough was in the fridge overnight, you may need to let it warm up for 10-15 minutes first.
7. On a well floured countertop using a well floured rolling pin, roll out one disc of the dough until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes and place 1-2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the tops are set. (This will depend on the size of your cookie cutters and the thickness of the dough).
1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup and milk. Mix in a little more milk or powdered sugar as necessary.
2. Divide into small bowls and mix with food coloring.
3. Decorate the cookies using piping bags, or a knife. I like to use disposable piping bags and a 4M tip.
1. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.
2. Beat in the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, then beat in the milk or cream. Add in a little extra powdered sugar or milk/cream as necessary.
3. Divide the icing into small bowls and mix with food coloring.
4. Frost the cookies using piping bags or a knife.
Here’s how mine turned out:
I measured all of my dry ingredients…..sorry, scratch that. Actually, except for the flour, Judah measured all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and then stirred them together for me. This little boy is getting good, and I love it!
I then put my butter and sugars in another bowl and mixed them up with a hand mixer.
Then I added my egg and vanilla and mixed again.
Lastly, the molasses.
It looks and smells like gingerbread. Success!
Then Judah used his big strong muscles to combine the dry and wet ingredients together. It takes a little while, so be patient.
At the very end I used my hands to work it together completely and then split it into two pieces and flattened them out onto plastic wrap, to put into the fridge.
This is the most awful part. Try explaining that the dough has to just sit in the fridge for a few hours to get hard to a three year old. Doing nothing. Just sitting there. Not changing in the slightest, to his eyes anyway.
But in the meantime, you can get your candies ready.
Or line your baking sheets with parchment paper. That will take up another 2 minutes or so. The instructions say to leave it for 4 hours. We got to two hours and then I just gave up and took it out. I assure you, it will work.
Flour your work surface and rolling pin and start rolling out that dough. It’s hard, so take your time and be gentle.
When we got it to the right thickness, we started making our gingerbread men cutouts.
Wildly and randomly, we put them on a baking sheet, and put them in the oven. Mine were perfect at 8 minutes.
They came out great! Firm, but still very soft.
I let them cool and then I ate one just like this to really test the flavor and texture and I was very happy with them.
Completely cooked, but soft and tender, and yet they aren’t fragile, so you are able to handle and decorate them, without them falling apart and breaking.
Now let’s get messy folks!
My tip for the icing – I made my simple icing that I always make. It’s about 1 ½ cups of confectioners sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of whole milk. Mix until smooth. You have to start small with the milk. Go less and add if it’s too thick. You don’t want it runny because it will run off the cookies. Thick, yet squeezable and spreadable. Then transfer to small ziploc bags and squeeze it all into one corner of the bag and cut off the very smallest cut at the tip. Ta-da. Throw away piping bag. And no mess!
Here’s how a few of the cookies turned out. We are not cookie decorators. But we had fun.
We listened to Christmas music, later ate these funny looking guys with Mexican Hot Chocolate, and just enjoyed being cozy at home. It’s these quiet, simple times during the holidays that I really love the most.
The next few days are some of my favorite of the year, and I am looking forward to seeing my family and sharing this time with all of them.
This holiday season, I send out a special prayer to a few of my closest friends, who I know are not having the happiest of Christmases this year. My heart is with you and may the peace and love of God surround you. I love you too.
And thank you to all the wonderful new friends that I have met through this (still new for me) blogging community. I started this blog 3 months ago for friends and family to keep updated with our progress of the building of our Homestead. What I did not expect, was to read so many wonderful stories about people all over the world, that fascinate me every day. I have learned so many things, have laughed out loud, and cried a few times from the honesty and transparency you all show. I can’t wait to meet more of you and discover new things, see new places through beautiful photography, find more recipes, learn more about your ranches and farms, parenting tips from you wonderful parents, and a favorite for me – stories of 4 legged friends.
Merry Merry to you all, and so much love, from our family to yours,
– The Merry Homesteaders Wife, xoxo