Tag Archives: Gingerbread

Day Four: Gingerbread Snowflakes

On the fourth day of my holiday baking adventure, I present to you, Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies.

Just as in nature, where no two snowflakes are identical, here, no two gingerbread snowflakes are alike.  And that, I think, is the beauty of them!  Although I love gingerbread, I seem to associate it with mostly with winter, although this summer, I did bake some to sandwich dulce de leche ice cream.  That was an unbeatable combination.

Baking these cookies makes me very happy and makes my house smell unbelievable.  Should you have any lingering odours in the kitchen (from frying or otherwise), bake these and those nasty smells will disappear.  There are tons of gingerbread recipes out there, but the best one I have tried comes from Cook’s Illustrated.  I follow their recipe exactly, with the exception of ground cloves.  I leave that out.  I find the flavour too overpowering. I also cut back slightly on the ground ginger and ground cinnamon.

It was from Cook’s Illustrated that I learned a clever method for rolling out the dough.  Most recipes recommend chilling the dough before rolling it out. That is very difficult to do.  Cook’s says to roll the dough out , between 2 sheets of parchment paper, while it is still soft.  Then  freeze it in the parchment, for about 30 minutes.  Then cut out the snowflakes while the dough is very cold.  A simple but brilliant idea.

I have 2 snowflake cookie cutters.  The first is a beautiful large copper one made by Old RiverRoad.  I found it on Amazon.  the second is a medium-sized aluminum one I found in my local housewares store.  Another fantastic source for cookie cutters is www.coppergifts.com.  They also have photos of several decorating ideas for every cookie cutter they sell.  It is a fantastic resource!

For those of you familiar with baseball parlance, I had to bring in a “Designated Hitter” to pipe the icing on the snowflakes.  Last year I developed carpal tunnel syndrome from piping over 160 cookies in one day.  I wasn’t taking any chances this year.  Sarah, my old babysitter (and now friend) volunteered to come and pipe.  I think you’ll agree she did a masterful job.

Filling the piping bag is easy if you put it into an empty pitcher, and fold the top edge over so it doesn’t slide down.  I used disposable piping bags and a small plain piping tip.

I really like the look of white icing and clear coarse decorating sugar, but feel free to experiment with different colours.  Spoon on the sugar when the icing is still wet.  Be heavy-handed, you can shake the excess off.  Line cookie sheet with parchment, so you can easily dump leftover sugar into sugar container to reuse.

Who wouldn’t love to receive this perfect mouthful of winter?

To print gingerbread cookie recipe, click here.

To print royal icing recipe, click here.

I’m still baking, just not baking bread!

 

 It’s been 16 days since my last post and lest you think I’ve been slacking off, my fellow bread freaks, I have been quite busy with some other baking projects. As a way of saying thanks to all those who are important to me in my life, I bake sweets for them around the holidays.  It started when I was in my 20′s when my girlfriend Marla and I would become Chocolatiers, turning my kitchen into an artisan chocolate shop, making about 6 different varieties of truffles (including Grand Marnier, Mint, Peanut Butter, Espresso, Milk Chocolate with Almond and Praline).  At the end of about 4 days we’d have turned out over 2000 handmade truffles, hand dipped and decorated.  We’d be covered in chocolate, weigh 5 pounds more than when we started and be thoroughly disgusted by the sight and smell of all that chocolate. We swore we would not do it again next year.  But of course we did!

 Then in 1993 I moved to Ottawa so I had to fly solo.  Without Marla beside me I didn’t have the heart to do truffles so I turned to cookies.  In those early years the main beneficiaries of those treats were my kid’s teachers and the staff at the pediatrician’s office.  You’d be amazed how effective a big basket of cookies is in getting your sick child in to see the doctor before 10 other screaming, sneezing, coughing kids in the waiting room!  Each year I’d add a few more people to my list and now I have about 45 people I send to each year.

This year I made:

 Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies.  I piped white royal icing and sprinkled them with clear coarse sugar.  I made about 280 of these and by the time I was finished I had carpal tunnel syndrome in my piping hand.  My children thought it was quite funny that I injured myself baking!

I also made Lemon Coconut Cookies, Macadamia Butterscotch Chip Skor Bar Cookies and  Oatmeal Lace Cookies (sandwiched with chocolate ganache).

I made White Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Cookies.  I loved making these.  Here’s my chocolate dipping fork that I bought many years ago when I was heavily into truffle making.  It holds the flat cookies perfectly.

The crushed candy canes are sprinkled on before the chocolate has set.  I tempered the white chocolate.  I found a great site with step-by-step tempering directions.

A heating pad, set on low, keeps the chocolate at the perfect temperature after tempering.  Don’t forget to cover the heating pad in foil to avoid chocolate stains!

Here are the finished cookies. 

 I also made Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark.  I have been making this for about 10 years now and am kind of sick of it but I can’t delete it from the roster as the receptionist at my doctor’s office, my yoga teacher and my hairdresser tell me that they wait for it all year.  So it’s become a staple.  It keeps well in the fridge for several weeks.

The last treat I made was Chocolate Caramel Truffles with Fleur de Sel.

 

 While cookie baking is my passion, the real creative fun begins when I gather all my packaging material and design the labels.  I use a great graphics program called Print Shop and print out all the labels on glossy labels from www.onlinelabels.com.   Most of my ribbons and bags and boxes I get from www.pritchardpackaging.com, a wholesale outlet here in Ottawa where I live.

 I decided on a pink, black and white theme this year.

Here are the gift boxes all packaged up and ready to go:

 

 Next week I’m back to the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, I promise!