It's true: I fell off the cookie wagon. Life, work, Christmas shopping, and some croupy junk in my chest (shared with sir Nickerdoodle) got the better of me Thursday and Friday. I suppose I'll just have to make two batches of cookies on two of the days ahead. Oh, so sad :)!
Nick is down for his nap, which has given me time to make the first round of gingerbread men for our little kids cookie-decorating-party tomorrow. I decided to keep the party simple (given the ages--all two year olds and one 4 year old), and bake the cookies ahead of time, and keep their contributions to slathering, sprinkling, and eating.
This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the December 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. I loved it then--I'm especially keen on the fact that there is no creaming of butter, or chilling of dough. I like it even better with my modifications (far more spice, white whole wheat flour, and dark molasses).
When you mix it up in the saucepan, you may think you've done something wrong, because it looks wet and fudge-like. Not a worry, that's how it should look. When you turn it out onto a floured board and knead in the all-purpose flour (this part is pure therapy, like massaging warm clay), it becomes smooth and pliable; it's also a dream to roll out. Enjoy!
Totally Awesome Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cookies
2/3 cup molasses (not robust)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional—I do love the cardamom; you could also use allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (e.g., King Arthur brand)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Bring molasses, brown sugar, and spices to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up), then stir in butter a few pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next, until all butter is melted. Stir in the egg until combined; stir in white whole wheat flour and salt.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of the 1/4 cup all-purpose flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Halve dough, then wrap 1 half in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
Roll out remaining dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured board.
Cut out cookies with cutters; transfer to prepared sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven; switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 11-13 minutes total (do not overbake—watch carefully!). Transfer cookies to racks. Cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and scraps (re-roll once). Makes about 3 dozen medium cookies, Decorate, or eat straight up.