A huge thank you goes out to everyone who entered this month's Bake Off! Your decorated gingerbread cookies looked great! Stay tuned for the next Bake Off recipe coming in January. Happy Holidays everyone!
It was a treat to see everyone's photos of gingerbread cookies, but what touched my heart is that every single on of you shared a story around making the cookies - that is the true spirit of Christmas shining through!
This month's winner and recipient of a $250 Williams-Sonoma gift card is Julie K. The fact that my gingerbread cookie recipe became the centre of such a heartwarming afternoon of baking and decorating for Alzheimers and dementia patients warms my heart. I grew up baking with my Grandmother and later in life she suffered from dementia, but we continued to bake together. I commend you on your worthy work and wish you a joyful holiday season.
In second place, and the winner of an autographed Anna Olson cookbook: Lisa K: The photo of you and your daughter Abby baking together is just too sweet. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish your family a happy and delicious holiday season.
A few mentions are deserved: to Sandy T: your cut-out snowflakes are stunning - too pretty to eat! To Nicole P: I like your creative spirit making the cookie recipe into the bar. To Julia P: I collect snowflake cookie cutters, too. To Peter: I like that the recipe was used to make as treats for your church community - I'm sure the kids enjoyed them especially. Ashleigh B: Like to see the Movember look going strong!
DECORATED GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Makes about 2 dozen
¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
6 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup fancy molasses
1 large egg at room temperature
1 ½ cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp meringue powder
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp warm water
food colour pastes (optional)
coloured sugars or other edible décor
1. Beat the butter, brown sugar and molasses together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Add this to the butter mixture and stir until blended. Shape the dough into 2 disks, wrap and chill for about an hour up to 2 days (the dough will still be soft, even once chilled).
3. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2-3 baking trays with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first disk of dough until just over 1/8-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter of your choosing to cut out desired shapes. Lift the cookies carefully to the prepared trays, leaving about ½-inch between them. Any scraps can be stored chilled and then re-rolled until it has all been used.
4. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes until you see them brown a little just around the edges. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the tray before removing to cool completely.
5. For the royal icing, beat the meringue powder, icing sugar and warm water with an electric mixer until peaks form (approximately 10-12 minutes). Divide the icing into bowls and stir in colour, if desired
6. To assemble, spoon the royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe desired patterns, lines or dots on the cookies and sprinkle with coloured sugars or other edible décor. Let the cookies dry for 2 hours before packing.
The cookies will keep up to a week in an airtight container.
Professionally trained pastry chef Anna Olson is the host of Food Network's Bake with Anna Olson. Anna’s culinary philosophy is based on a common-sense approach of cooking and baking with the seasons, as well as respecting the ingredients, the technique and the process of sharing with others through food. Most of all, cooking and baking should be fun!
by Anna Olson