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* Prep Time: 10 min.
* Bake Time: 45 min.
* Difficulty: Moderate
* Yield: Makes 18 cookies.

ingredients

* 4 cups M&M’S® Brand Minis Chocolate Candies
* 1 18 oz. roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
* 2/3 cup flour
* 1 16 oz. can vanilla frosting
* 1 14 oz. package red licorice laces
* Resealable plastic bags
* Drinking straw
* Christmas light shaped cookie cutter

directions

* 1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
* 2. Knead the flour into the cookie dough until smooth.
* 3. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. By hand, or using a Christmas light cookie cutter, cut out shapes.
* 4. With a spatula, gently transfer the cookies to a baking sheet. Using a drinking straw, press a hole at the top of each cookie.
* 5. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
* 6. Separate different colors of M&M’S® Brand Minis Chocolate Candies, and set aside.
* 7. Spread vanilla frosting on top of each cookie. Arrange a solid color of M&M’S® Brand Minis Chocolate Candies on top of each cookie.
* 8. Let the cookies dry for 30 minutes. Run licorice laces through each hole, connecting the cookies into one continuous strand.

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My little one is still too young to really get excited about Christmas, so I am planning our family traditions now while he is so young in hopes that he will acquire the sense of wonder that I had when I was young. I absolutely loved Christmas preparations, decking the halls and baking so many yummy treats. My Aunt Nancy used to make Christmas cookies. She had gingerbread men, peanut butter blossoms, butter balls(russian tea cakes) and iced sugar cookies with dragees decorating them. My mother always prepared my paternal grandmother’s nut roll recipe. She would make raspberry, apricot, poppy seed and traditional walnut all frosted with yummy vanilla frosting. My mom also had these white feather wreaths she hung on the living room wall, porcelain angels that would hang on the lamps and these strange lantern-like gold garlands that would drape across the windows. We always had to have an artificial tree because my mom was allergic to the real ones. My fondest decoration was the plastic, glittery candy garland that used to hang in the kitchen doorway. Oh and then there were also the little plastic elves that everyone seemed to have. We always opened one gift on Christmas eve then we would go to bed and Santa Claus would come and leave us more presents. We always woke up early to see what Santa brought and then we would go to church. As we got older we would start going to midnight mass. My maternal grandmother was born on Christmas day so she would come over every year for dinner which usually included a ham with all the fixings. My husband’s family really didn’t have any strong traditions, the only thing he remembers are the handmade felt ornaments his aunt use to make. Those and this odd family concoction called hamloaf!? I have the recipe, I just don’t know if that is one tradition I want to encourage! :o) Over the next few months, I hope to share our traditions as well as some of my friend’s and fellow Christmas lovers!(and if I can dig out the old Stamblesky nut roll recipe, I might just share that too!)

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Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies (with title)

[Blogger’s note: The original post is taken from manggy.blogspot.com. The cookie title
above this picture is an active link and will take you to the original post with comments. Great Blog! Check it out!]

I’ll apologize in advance for appearing to be born from another planet, but I’ve never had an honest-to-goodness gingerbread cookie before. I had a glazed, slightly spicy cookie before, but it tasted more like a Dunkin Donuts’ Choco Honey Dipped, for some reason. Maybe it was. So after years of wondering, I was suddenly in the mood for something I thought maybe both kids and adults would like. Imagine my dismay when I learned that most gingerbread cookies were quite hard and only good for making houses and tree ornaments. I realize they’re not exactly the same, but I had a gingersnap made by Fibisco that almost took my diamond-like (in hardness, heh) teeth out. Next! But a gem somehow landed in my lap: Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which addressed these problems. Given that I hadn’t made dessert in a while (and cookies in an even longer while), it was a Godsend. It even has instructions for when you want thin cookies for ornaments. So happy holiday baking, everyone! Get to it! (Okay, Thanksgiving first for those of you who celebrate.) This is my contribution to Susan of Food Blogga’s Eat Christmas Cookies blogging event and Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen’s A Spoonful of Christmas blogging event.
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
The problem was, there was only one supermarket in Manila that sold molasses. What the?!?! I went to Robinson’s, Megamall, Hi-Top, Landmark, and Rustan’s (several branches). Only Unimart had both local and imported brands. I chose an imported unsulphured brand (Grandma’s Mild), since it’s my first time and I wanted to be sure I got the unsulphured variety (the local brand didn’t specify). I hear they have tons of wholesale baking supplies at Quiapo, where the fruitcake-mass-producing types get their molasses by the liter. I wasn’t sold on that since generic fruitcake is not at all that enticing. (Recipe follows)
The recipe I wrote down here has 3 different methods: first by hand (which is what I used– what use is having arm muscles, heh), then by stand mixer with paddle, and by food processor. I’ve also included weight measurements for those so inclined. Enjoy!
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 3 cups (425g) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • 3/4 cup (150g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 sticks (165g) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and slightly softened
  • 3/4 cup (225g) molasses (mild or full/robust, your choice, but I found mild to be quite flavorful as it was)
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

By hand: In a small bowl, combine the molasses and milk and stir together; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add the sugar and whisk to combine thoroughly. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and work it into the flour with a pastry blender (what I used), a fork, two knives, or a rubber spatula until it resembles very fine meal. Drizzle a third of the molasses mixture over the dough and combine with a rubber spatula (what you’re doing is essentially moistening the dough). Repeat with half of the remaining molasses, then use it all up. You’ll end up with a soft, cohesive dough that looks like coffee ice-cream.

By stand mixer with a paddle attachment: In a small bowl, combine the molasses and milk and stir together; set aside. In the bowl of the mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Mix at low speed until combined (about 30 seconds). Scatter the butter pieces over the top and mix at medium-low speed until it resembles very fine meal (about 90 seconds). Reduce the speed to low and drizzle in the molasses mixture with the mixer running and mix until the dough is moistened thoroughly (about 20 seconds), then increase the speed to medium and mix for 10 seconds more to combine.

By food processor: In a small bowl, combine the molasses and milk and stir together; set aside. Process the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves until combined (about 10 seconds). Scatter the butter pieces over the top and process until it resembles fine meal (about 15 seconds). With the machine running, drizzle in the molasses mixture and process until the dough is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass (about 10 seconds).

Continue here for all methods: Cut out at least 4 parchment rectangles to fit the bottom of your sheet pans. Scrape dough onto a work surface and divide into 2 (I used a scale to be accurate: I divided it into 2-502g masses). Place each dough half onto its own parchment rectangle and cover each with another parchment rectangle. Pat out each with your fingers through the parchment into a rough rectangle, then roll each into an even 1/4-inch thickness sandwiched in between the 2 parchment sheets (one way to get an even thickness is to use magazines of the appropriate thickness on both ends of your rolling pin as a guide– Bon Appetit is one such magazine). Stack the dough sheets (still intact in their parchment sandwiches) onto a sheet pan and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes, or refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Place a rack in the upper and lower-middle positions of your oven and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper (I just used the ones on my dough sheets, to conserve paper, no problem). Remove a dough sheet from the fridge and peel off the top parchment sheet, gently lay it back on the dough and put another sheet pan on top. Flip the whole set-up over and peel off then discard the other parchment sheet. Using a 3- or 5-inch gingerbread person cutter or a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out shapes and transfer to the lined sheet pans, leaving 3/4 inch space in between. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes (for 3-inch people, which is what I used), or 8-11 minutes (for 5-inch people or 3-inch cookies), rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through. You’re looking for set centers and for the dough to barely retain an imprint when touched gently with a fingertip. Don’t overbake! They will set some more while cooling. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the pans then transfer with a wide metal spatula to a cooling rack.

Gather the scraps and repeat the rolling and cutting, chilling the dough again if it’s become too soft. I was able to juggle all my rolling and cutting in advance so I can bake them consecutively. The yield is 25 3-inch people, 20 5-inch people, or 30 3-inch cookies. Best if eaten within a week.

For thin, crisp cookies that can be used as ornaments:
Divide the dough into 4 and roll out into an even 1/8-inch thickness. Bake at 325°F (163°C) oven until slightly darkened and firm in the center when pressed, 15-20 minutes for 5-inch gingerbread people.

Royal Icing for Decoration:

  • 1 pasteurized egg white
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • (at least) 1-1/2 cups (165g) confectioner’s sugar

Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat together the egg white and lemon juice until frothy. Sift in all the confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth. Lift the beaters and if a ribbon takes less than 5 seconds to disappear into the icing’s surface or runs down the sides when spread over a cookie’s edge, add more sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Use immediately. You can use a piping bag with a plain tip or load it into a zip-lock bag and snip off a little bit of the tip. The icing will dry and form a crust overnight. If uncomfortable with using a raw egg white due to health concerns, please consult the internet for recipes using meringue powder.

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