I don't like Christmas Cookies.
Here, I said it.
I can't stand standing at a work surface that was clearly designed for tiny people, I can't stand having to make the dough a gazillion hours in advance so it can chill, I can't stand crumbly, chilled cookie dough, and most of all, I can't stand how long it takes to cut out the cookies.
What I do love, however, is spending an afternoon with friends with the oven on for the entire time, a competition for who has the worst iTunes collection, a glass of nice desert wine to go with the cookies once they're done (or to stop me from swearing when yet another angel loses it's wings or another dinosaur looses it's head) so as much as I hate the cookies themselves, I love everything that goes with making them.
This year I have another reason for disliking them slightly less - ninjas :)
I found the most amazing ninja cookie-cutters in Austin. They are awesome! And beat even the dinosaurs, the lobsters, Tigger, and the one-legged pirate (Christmas-Lobsters are so 2003 anyway...).
So yesterday we spent the afternoon making Christmas Ninjas (and some squirrels, pirates, and stars).
The recipe today is an adaptation of Jenna's gingerbread cookies which are an adaptation of a Gourmet recipe, and let me tell you - they are absolutely lovely!
33/4 cups White Spelt Flour
1tbsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tbsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
2 sticks Butter, cubed
2/3 cup Molasses
2/3 cup Muscovado Sugar
2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Egg, slightly beaten.
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees.
Then get out a large, heavy bottomed sauce-pan and mix the spices, sugar and molasses in it. Bring the mixture to a boil (personally this is where I got a bit scared because I really don't like boiling sugar, but it's worth it, just be aware that boiling sugar is a lot hotter than boiling water and if you get it onto your skin it will stay on there (and yes, let me tell you, all the amazingness of what you can do with hot sugar is not worth that trip to the ER on a weekend) so proceed with caution) and keep it there for about 3 minutes.
Take the pot off the heat and stir in the bicarb. This was one of the most amazing sights I had baking in a while, the bicarb turns the molasses and sugar into a very hot bubbly mousse thing.
Stir in the butter and once it's mixed in add the egg as well.
Now add the flour and salt and once that's properly incorporated you are ready to go.
The dough will still be warm but as long as you're not burning your fingers, start rolling it out on a floured surface and attacking it with cookie cutters :)
The cookies take about 12 minutes and as I mentioned before, they go amazingly well with a glass of desert wine...