Monday, December 6, 2010

Gingerbread House and Cookies

What's Christmas without the gingerbread house?  This is one tradition that I didn't want my boys to miss out on, so I set out to make gingerbread cookies for the first time.  Yes, I was one of those lazy moms before, that either used graham crackers or bought the kit from the store, so I have never made gingerbread cookies/houses from scratch before.  But after looking at a bunch of recipes, I found one that made it seem foolproof, and it was, of course her recipe isn't gluten, dairy, or soy-free, so that's where I come in.... :)  We haven't decorated the house or cookies yet, but when we do I'll post the pictures.

Gingerbread House and Cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon clove
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup palm oil shortening 
1 egg, beaten

3 1/2 cups all-purpose cookie flour 


In a medium saucepan, heat sugar, molasses, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in soda (it will foam up). Stir in shortening till melted. With a fork, stir in egg, then flour.

On a floured surface, knead dough till mixed. Divide dough in half, wrap half with plastic wrap; set aside. Roll half the dough, with a rolling pin, slightly thinner than 1/4 inch. Cut with cutters. Repeat with other half of dough.

Bake at 325F on a cookie sheet for 12 minutes; cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen 3" gingerbread people. I made one gingerbread house and 10 3" cookies with my batch.

NOTE: Make houses by cutting out a house design (the 2 sides of the roof, two sides, a front and a back of the house), and then placing the paper shapes on the dough and cutting the dough shapes out with a knife. There are several templates online, if you don't want to design your own.

Also, plan on constructing the house the day before you want to decorate it, to allow the icing to harden and keep the house together.  I've learned this one the hard way. :) Below is the recipe for royal icing that I use for my houses and cookies. :)

Royal Icing

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar


Whisk together egg whites and lemon juice on low/medium low speed until frothy. Add sugar and whisk until well mixed, then whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Put icing into a icing or ziploc bag, and use it to construct and decorate the house.  Icing that is not being used should be covered with a damp cloth, so it won't dry out.

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