I can't stand it when a recipe is described as "easy" and then, come to find out, it's SOOO not. I've been making this recipe for the past 3 years, and these little guys turn out delicious every year. The only time-consuming part is waiting for them to bake! Mine typically turn out crunchy rather than chewy, which is fine because then you can dunk them in milk or hot cocoa.
(N.B. I'm discovering the use of asterisks in blogging when I realize later, after publishing, that I forgot to put something in here in the first place.*)
Sometimes, I find a recipe that just turns out right every time. In this case, there is absolutely no point in making any modifications**, which is what I'd recommend when you make these delicious gingerbread cookies! I found the recipe in the NY Times and it is absolutely perfect.
Here it is: Moira Hodgson's Gingerbread Cookies
DO NOT do anything to this recipe. Seriously. The recipe was originally adapted from a yummy-looking and sadly out-of-print book called, appropriately, Gingerbread: 99 Delicious Recipes From Sweet to Savory which I will have to get a copy of now because I just love gingerbread anything. One year I made gingerbread ornaments for the Christmas tree!
I was trying to remember if I've ever made this recipe with blackstrap molasses before or not. I think I just used this organic one, which I buy at Whole Foods***. I don't know that blackstrap would be that fantastic, might overwhelm the cookies! For an interesting article on the different kinds of molasses, click here.
These cookies are fun because the dough (once chilled) is really easy to roll out and cut into shapes. I found some great Christmas cookie cutters on Amazon a few years ago, from a company called Old River Road. They have all kinds of fun shapes. Also Wilton makes a nice, sturdy snowflake cookie cutter that I love (the fun results of both are shown in my photo, above.)
For baking, I really like my 17 x 12 USA Pans cookie sheet, although I also throw a silicone baking mat down on top first, because I don't like to bake directly on aluminum. Plus it's easier than having to grease the pan. The one I use is only $8 and it's held up fairly well for the last 4 years, although I don't do a ton of baking. I just noticed recently that it was starting to smell sort of burned, but at $8 I can afford to get a new one this year...
These cookies go over well with husbands, pet sitters, mail and package delivery folks, neighbors, Santa...they just make a really economical Christmas gift for those you want to express appreciation for at the holidays!
Best of luck always,
* Or that something I said was plain wrong. It happens.
** And of course after I wrote this post, I made a couple batches of this recipe. Of course I would make some modifications, after all. My dough (both batches) turned out really sticky, not unlike mud, so when the directions called for kneading the dough after most of the flour was incorporated...yeah, that didn't happen. I just kind of globbed it into a pile and shaped it into a saucer-shape, then wrapped it up with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
*** Yep. This is the one I used last year. It's about the only thing I ever use molasses for during the year.