We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cookie Recipe #19 - Gingerbread People

This cookie is for today's birthday people-my granddaughter, Aubrey, turning 2; my nephew, Tony, turning 17; and Chuck Clark, turning (in a whisper) 50! Wish I could give each of you your birthday cookie in person and celebrate the day...

Gingerbread People comes from a book called "Mrs. Fields Cookie Book" published in 1992 by Time-Life Books where its called Gingerbread Men. I made a few bears along with the people-you can use any cookie cutter shape you like.

Ingredients: 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 cup butter, softened, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed, 1 egg, 1/2 cup molasses, 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, 1-2 teaspoons milk.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together in medium bowl the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In large mixing bowl, cream butter; add sugar and mix. Add egg and molasses and continue beating. Add flour mixture gradually until combined; don't overmix. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or until firm (I let it sit overnight).

On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters dipped in flour press firmly on top of dough and lift carefully. Transfer cookie to ungreased baking sheet and continue until all dough is used. Gather pieces of leftover dough together into a ball, reroll and continue cutting out shapes.
Place into preheated 325 degree oven for 8-10 minutes; cookies should still be soft; not hard. Allow to cool for a minute on baking sheet before transferring to cooling racks. While cookies are cooling, make icing as follows: Stir sugar and milk together in small bowl until mixture is smooth, but liquidy. If too dry, add a little more milk. Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a small piping tip. (You may also use a small ziploc bag with a very tiny triangle cut off a bottom corner). Decorate your cookies as desired with eyes, mouths, clothing, etc.
Mini chocolate chips, red cinnamon perils, sprinkles, nuts, etc. can also be used to decorate your cookies.
Makes about 2 dozen 6 inch cookies; more if you use smaller cookie cutters.
Today is supposed to be the last day of storms for us that began on Monday; by Saturday we should see the sun again and hopefully all the rain will help out the drought conditions we have had here in California. If you can't be outside playing, you might as well be in the kitchen baking!!! Happy, happy birthday to Aubrey, Tony, Chuck and all the other birthday people!
Cookies Rule!!!

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