Gingerbread cookies! I just love 'em! My favorite recipe for gingerbread cut-out cookies came from my Home Economics/Cooking teacher, Mrs. Johns, my senior year of high school, 1988. She made us keep a recipe box all semester. We students would grunt a little, what with the constant copying of recipes from the board. But, I have kept that box, and cherished that box, almost weekly, if not daily, for the past 24 years. I remember, each class, we'd add to it daily. Some recipes Mrs. Johns gave us...some recipes were from other students...some were of dishes we prepared during class. One I'll never forget...Steak in a Bag, cooked in the microwave. We actually cooked a steak, in a brown paper grocery bag, in the microwave. I kid you not! Truth is...it was down right delicious and very tender! I still have that recipe tucked away in that box...and I am never ever gettin' rid of it...or any other recipe in that box...especially the recipe for gingerbread cookies!
Well, you can't make gingerbread cookies without molasses. Here's the brand I use.
Brer Rabbit Molasses. Don't you just love the vintage art work on this bottle?
It is simple, classic and beautiful.
Ok, let's get to the cookie designs! I could not resist making a gingerbread Yeti. You know, the Abominable Snow Monster that lives in the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal. I guess you might say he is Sasquatch's snowy cousin. LOL! I just love the folklore behind Sasquatch and Yeti. It's just too fun! Don't forget the ever famous clay-mation, Abominable Snow Monster character from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
Beautiful snowflakes...holiday colored Sixlets chocolate candies in the middle.
Gingerbread Cookie Cut-outs
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix molasses, brown sugar, water and shortening with electric mixer. Beat in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate dough until chilled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake 10 minutes. Cool and decorate with any basic decorator frosting and sugar.
A good old fashioned nut roll...just like grandma used to make! Oh my gosh, I just love nut rolls. They are so delicious. I especially love when some of the nut filling oozes out of the roll while baking....it gets all crisp and sugary....oh man, that is the best part! It's pure heaven! There is nothing better than sitting down to a cup of coffee or hot tea and a few slices of nut roll. It just makes my afternoon. Especially on those cold, snowy days....it's the best!
How do you like this wintery, owl wrapping paper? Isn't it adorable? I bought it at Target, in the Christmas section. (about $5 dollar) I'll be using this paper to make into bags for the nut rolls. I purchased long, clear, "hoagie sandwich" type sleeve baggies to put each roll in. You can usually find them for sale at your local cake and cake supply store. I purchased mine for 14 cents a piece. I wanted something extra special to package the nut rolls in...that's where this cute owl paper comes in! It will make great custom made bags for gift giving!
*makes 5, 15 inch rolls
1/4 C. lukewarm water
2 packets dry yeast
2/3 C. evaporated milk
2/3 C. water
6 C. flour (possibly more, depending on dough)
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. vegetable shortening
4 eggs, beaten
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and set aside. Beat together eggs, shortening and butter. Add the sugar and salt and mix. Add the evaporated milk and the 2/3 C water, the yeast mixture, and 1 C of the flour. Beat well. Add the remaining flour gradually. It is quite possible you will need more than the 6 cups of flour. Sometimes I need to add as much as 2 1/2 cups of extra flour. You are done adding flour when your dough is no longer sticky and it is smooth and elastic and easy to knead without it sticking to your hands. Don't over add flour...just be careful and do it a little at a time. Knead the dough until smooth. Place in a greased bowl and cover until the dough has doubled in size. This dough will not rise as much as bread dough, so don't worry. Give it a good hour or so, and you will be fine! While the dough is rising, make your nut filling.
2 pounds shelled walnuts
2 1/2 C sugar
1 C melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
Grind the walnuts in a food processor for best results. The walnuts should be ground to the consistency of finely chopped. Combine all the ingredients into a large saucepan and cook over low flame until thickened. Stir almost constantly and keep flame low. Cook for at least 10 minutes. Allow nut filling to cool. This will take a while and I sometimes divide up the mixture into 3 separate bowls to help the mixture cool faster. You can refrigerate for a few minutes as well. You don't want to spread the raw dough with hot nut filling, so make sure it is at least cooled down to just warm to the touch.
assemble nut rolls and bake:
When dough is doubled, divide it into 5 equal parts. Roll each piece out to about 1/4 inch thickness. You do not have to roll dough into a square. Roll the dough out into a circle...not a perfect circle...but a big awkward circle...this will be just fine! Divide the nut filling into 5 equal portions and spread filling on each circle of dough you roll out. Spread to within a 1/2 inch of the edges. Roll up like a jelly roll and tuck in the ends. Place on baking tray. Prick top of roll with a fork a few times and brush with an egg yolk wash. (1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tsp. water) Let roll sit 30 minutes before baking. Rolls do not need to rise like bread dough. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.
This is one of my favorite ornaments. It was made by my son when he was 3 years old. He was in Playgroup at our church...pre school for 3 year olds. My son is now 14. Fourteen. My baby boy is 14. When I think about him, being 3, his tiny little hands painting and glittering this pine cone.....it's just too precious. I wish I could go back in time and glimpse a shot of him, sitting at the table, creating, watching the other kids, waiting for me to come pick him up, giving me this ornament, hanging it on the tree. Days gone by. It's almost torture for a mom to think back on these memories. Though they are fond and precious and sweet and wonderful...the longing to be there again, just for a moment...it's a little torture-ous. Those precious, sweet, innocent days. I miss those days. Little boy, so cute and sweet, red hair, freckles, little nose, little mittens, little winter coat.
If I told him of this memory, how much I adore it... he would say to me "ok"....and I would have to say "ok??? What do you mean, ok? You should say, aw mom, that is such a nice memory." Then my 14 year old will repeat what I said he should say....in a monotone voice, "aw mom, that is such a nice memory."