Skip to main content

Amelia Islander

Gingerbread a Favorite Holiday Treat

Dec 17, 2012 07:10AM
There’s nothing better than the smell of spicy gingerbread cookies coming out the oven. Brown and crispy, loaded with ginger and cinnamon, gingerbread cookies are loved by young and old alike. Christmas is a week away, and there’s still time to make a batch for your family – a recipe follows this article. Here are a few tips to make your cookies come out perfect every time.

Be sure to allow time to chill your dough before cutting and baking. If you make your dough a day or two before baking your cookies, you won’t feel so overwhelmed. Enlist other family members or friends to help you decorate the cookies. It’s a lot more fun than doing it yourself. Use powdered meringue instead of raw egg whites when making royal icing. (The recipe is on the can of powdered meringue and available at Walmart.) Or take advantage of pre-made icings from the grocery store. And don’t get too crazy with cookie toppings like sugar and sprinkles – you don’t want to mask the flavor of that delicious gingerbread.

If you’re a true gingerbread lover, be sure to stop by the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, to see their famous 17-foot S.S. Amelia gingerbread pirate ship, docked in their lobby for the holiday season. Made from more than 1,200 pounds of sugar and 3,000 eggs, the popular pirate ship is getting national attention, and a great backdrop for a family photo. No nibbling though, matey, the pirate ship is merely a feast for the eyes.

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups all purpose flour (more or less) 1 cup cake flour 2 1/2 to 3 tsp. ginger 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon 1 tsp. ground cloves 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter 2 tablespoons butter flavored Crisco 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar 1/4 tsp. mace 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1 large egg 3/4 cup molasses 1/4 cup corn syrup 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt and set aside. Beat slightly softened butter and Crisco with sugar until light; add egg and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of bowl often. In a 1 cup liquid measure, add 1/4 cup corn syrup to cup, then fill to the 1 cup measure with molasses; add to butter mixture. Stir in vinegar and vanilla, mixing well. On lowest speed of mixer, beat in half of the flour/spice mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir in remaining dry ingredients gradually until well combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 or 3 portions; press each into a round, flattened disk and wrap well. Refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours or overnight. Dough is ready to be rolled when it is firm enough to roll without sticking to work surface. Adjust consistency by adding a little extra flour if needed, or a small amount of oil if dough is too dry. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into shapes with flour-dusted cookie cutters, and then transfer to parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 1 inch space between cookies.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 8-10 minutes for small cookies or longer for larger ones, or until cookies are lightly browned around bottom outer edges. Large cookies can take up to 15-20 minutes while smaller, thin cookies may bake in just a few minutes. Cool on wire racks before decorating with your favorite icings.