While the emotions settle from my trip to my daughter's, I offer up a Christmas treat: Gingerbread Cookies. Of course they are best after being frosted and sitting for a day or two in a sealed container, restoring some moistness. This recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, a recommended buy for the kitchen recipe collection.
Why did I make these? Dave had a work party to go to and we were supposed to take something. I was craving gingerbread, and I did half the batch (roll, bake, frost, decorate) in a short time. They were a hit with the Chinese couple that were hosting the party.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) real butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 molasses (I use the green label, the really full-bodied molasses)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
Melt the butter, then pour into the mixing bowl and stir in the sugar, molasses, salt and spices. Let it cool to lukewarm, then beat in the egg.
In a large bowl, whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, then stir these into the molasses mixture. Divide the dough in half and place in a ziploc bag (or wrap well in plastic wrap). Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer (I did 30 minutes and was fine, but I was in a hurry).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. No need to grease the baking sheets.
Take on piece of dough out of the fridge and using a floured surface and rolling pin, roll it out to 1/4" thickness, if you like your cookies a little chewier. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible.
Transfer the cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until they're slightly brown around the edges, about 8-12 minutes. At least that's what the recipe says but I couldn't see it. I set the timer to 8 minutes, or until they felt firm, then took them out. Transfer them to a rack immediately, but be careful not to distort the shapes as you remove them. (The recipe says leave them on the cookie sheet, but I did and they were too cool and brittle and the star points broke off.)
Mix together 2 cups powdered (confectioners' sugar) and enough water to make a stiff frosting. Slather it into the corner of a sturdy plastic bag (quart-sized freezer ziploc bags work fine). Snip off the tip, and scrunch down the bag, forcing it out through the hole. I outlined all the stars, then placed dragees on each tip, using up my precious stash hauled back from DC.
What are dragees? Those little silver balls we used to find on cupcakes. They're outlawed in California, so I have to get them when I head East.