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go gingerly how to make gingerbread cookies 
by Yee-Fan Sun
 | 1 2
continued from page 1

gingerbread cookies
lb. salted butter (2 sticks), softened
cup brown sugar
cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
2 Tbsp. hot water
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
3 tsps. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and molasses, mixing until smooth and creamy. Unless you're a total masochist, make sure the butter is good and soft, and use an electric mixer.
2 In a small bowl, mix the baking soda and hot water into a paste; add to the butter-sugar mix and combine well.
3 Gradually add the flour cup by cup, letting the mixer incorporate each cup of flour into the dough before adding more. When all the flour has been added, sprinkle in the ginger and cinnamon, and mix well.
4 Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth. If the dough feels very sticky, add some more flour. Divide the dough into 3 portions; flatten each portion into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 3 hours. I've left the dough in this state for 5 days before, and the dough was still fine; you can also freeze the dough if you're not planning to use it for a good long while.
5 When you're ready to bake up those cookies, preheat the oven to 350F. Pull out one section of the dough from the fridge, and let it warm up for 5-10 minutes or so.
6 Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it's about 1/8" thick. As you're rolling, you'll want to periodically pick up the dough, reflour the surface and set the dough down for more rolling -- this should prevent the dough from sticking.
7 Pull out your cookie cutters -- gingerbread men are classics, but you can use whatever shapes suit your fancy. Cut out your shapes, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. You can put the cookies fairly close together, as the cookies will not expand all that much when cooking. The dough scraps can be kneaded together and rolled out again.
8 Bake for 6 minutes, and remove from the oven. (While the cookies are doing their thing in the oven, take out another batch of dough from the fridge to let it warm up.) When the timer goes off, pull out the cookies. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for another minute or two, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack. Repeat steps 6-8 until you've used up all the dough.
9 When the cookies are cooled, get decorating. The easiest icing is just confectioner's sugar with a bit of water (you can also use orange juice or milk) mixed in to form a paste; this can be dyed with food coloring (Wilton's gel concentrates are best) or left white, then piped on or painted with cheap brushes. I like to make royal icing, which uses a little bit of powdered pasteurized egg white to help the icing harden to a nice, smooth finish. Once your cookies are decorated, store them in a covered container.


check out these related articles: 
holiday sugar cookies | cooking with ginger | edible holiday gifts 

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