Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gingerbread Tiles: A New Spin On An Old Classic

Chapel at Dusquesne University, Pittsburgh

I say "Gingerbread"
you say "Men"
"Gingerbread -Men"

Many a Christmas I spent all night in a bakery making hundreds and hundreds of gingerbread men...and houses. I think at one point, I over-dosed on red hots and swore them off forever...until next holiday season.

After I stopped working in professional kitchens, I still sold trays of Christmas cookies to friends and neighbors during the holidays and wanted to include some traditional flavors but didn't want to scare any one off with a huge gingerbread couple parked in the middle of the trays.

And then I found a recipe from Tartine (E.Prueitt and C. Roberstson--they have a San Fran bakery by that name) that I fell in love with and have been making ever since. It's delicious-soft and flavorful; but the chef also gave these cookies a fresh spin by using patterns on the dough, highlighted by a light glaze that accentuate both pattern and the flavors.

**Please note, this is not a good gingerbread recipe for building houses so don't be cursing me later-this recipe is for eating.

The dough is easy enough, put together through the creaming method  (butter and sugar; add dry).

In your mixing bowl, cream together

1 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar + 2 tbs

When it is well-blended, add

1 egg
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 tbs light corn syrup

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients.

3 3/4 cups AP flour
1 tbs cocoa
4 tsp ginger
1 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground clove
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
**the amounts on the spices are a "suggestion" to me; add as much as you like
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Add these to the mixing bowl and beat until all is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and divide the dough into two parts, wrapping each in plastic wrap to chill 8 hours or over-night.

When you are ready to roll, preheat the oven to 350 and dust a work surface with flour. I'm going to give you two options-pick what works for you.

If you have stamp molds (like what is used for springerle cookies) roll out the dough to 1/3 inch and dust the dough with more flour so the stamp doesn't stick. Press the dough, then cut out the shape from the dough and place on a lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the stamps and dough. Bake cookies for 7-14 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. You will know the cookie is done when it no longer looks wet and small cracks can be seen on the top.

If you have a roller with a design on it, you can bake whole sheets of designs at once and cut them into smaller sizes after they are baked. Of course, you may also decide to roll out a sheet and cut them before baking. This is entirely a matter of preference. I like baking a whole sheet at once because it's faster.
Roll out the dough slightly thicker than desired with a regular pin. You may do this directly on a silpat or piece of parchment for easier transfer if you are baking the gingerbread in sheets.  Dust the dough with more flour and roll the design over the dough. With a sharp knife, cut off any parts that didn't get covered with a design. Transfer to cookie sheet and bake,  7-14 minutes depending on size.

roller, before
dough after trimming

glaze and brush
very easy

When the cookies come out of the oven, you want to glaze them while they are still hot. This seals the top with a smooth, shiny glaze that accentuates the design. (*IF you want more glaze on the cookies, brush them again when they have cooled).
All you need for the glaze is 2 cups of confectioner's sugar with enough water stirred in to create a glaze that's thin enough to brush on with a pastry brush.

When the cookies are cooled, you can use a sharp knife to cut the tiles of design into smaller piece. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks...mine never last that long because I find these highly addictive.

Simple, charming,
a holiday staple

**As a side note, please please please do not wash your rolling pins. Pins that are made of wood should never be submerged in water to be washed. Always scrape off any excess dough and flour with the back of a knife (the DULL side, please). For patterned roller, remove any dough that may have stuck with a tooth pick, or something else that is not dangerous to the integrity of the pins. If your pins is sticky, wipe down with a damp rag. Take proper care of your tools and you'll be able to hand them down to your children someday.


Joanne said...

I say "Gingerbread"
you say "Men"
"Gingerbread -Men"

This made me laugh and Alan was all, "what's funny?" and I told him and now he thinks we're both dorks.

betty crocker said...

well, in all fairness, we ARE dorks but now he has something new to mock us with :)