The season of Christmas always brings back childhood memories of toys and gifts, all aglow with vivid colors of red, green and gold.
Among the traditional images are gingerbread cookies. No other cookie spells Christmas more than gingerbread. Here is a festive and fun Christmas table arrangement inspired by the classic treats. This table centerpiece will certainly amuse children and adults this Christmas.
Gather one and all to bake and decorate gingerbread cookies. While they are baking, set up a garland in the center of your table. Put red, green and gold balls around the branches and add some pine cones. You can add ribbons if you want. When the cookies are good and ready, you can simply position and rest them between the bristles of the garland and around the balls and pine cones.
Your Christmas table will certainly set the mood for a happy holiday feast that everyone will enjoy.
3¼ c sifted all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ c unsalted butter at room temperature, so it’s soft
½ c brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
½ unsulfured molasses
1 egg white
½ tsp lemon juice
1¾ cup confectioners sugar
In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and spices; set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, add the butter and mix until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in the eggs and molasses. Slowly add the flour mixture and combine at low speed. Divide the dough in thirds, wrap each of them in plastic. Chill for at least one hour, or overnight if you have time.
Before rolling out let the mixture sit in room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll out, work in a little more flour.
Heat oven to 350°. Place a third of the dough on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick.
Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for “buttons.”
Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.
The traditional way to make royal icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria.
With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture’s temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 tbsp egg white powder with 2 tbsp water. Proceed as you would otherwise. (Raw egg white alternatives from the 2006 “Joy of Cooking”)
If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.