**Christmas note** We’re sorry we’re such slackers. I got an email from my dad this morning saying “you and Susan get off the dime and do some more posts”, which, after I Googled “off the dime”, I found out it means “stop delaying”, apparently. Dad, your idioms are dating you. Anyway, Cat was traveling for work and then got the flu, Sue was in a wedding last weekend, we’ve been pretty busy but the recipes are coming. Thanks for bearing with us!
I don’t make Christmas cookies. I very much enjoy it when other people make them for me, but I don’t make them. (Last year, in fact, Sue made really good ones when she was home for Christmas last year and her mom was SO nice and sent me a box of them in the mail. That could happen again this year- I wouldn’t cry. Just saying.)
I do like to eat them, I’m just not so much of a baker. There are lots of Christmas cookie-related traditions in my family: my Uncle John is famous for his Christmas cookies (he does an exchange every year with the ladies in his office and everyone raves about his cookies, I’ll have to save an entire post for the beloved eccentricities of my wonderful Uncle John, including the year he hitchhiked home from work around the holidays wearing a Christmas sweater), my brother and my grandma had a standing tradition for a few years of making a gingerbread house together, and I used to request chocolate crinkles from Julie Biolchini every year in my mom’s cookie exchange with her pinochle group. Mom- do you guys still do that? Do you think Julie could send me some chocolate crinkles?
Anyway, one thing I can bake is gingerbread, because it’s super hard to mess up. It’s really moist already from the milk and molasses, and if you burn it a little, well, just put some icing on it. Some gingerbreads aren’t dense enough for me, landing closer to the gingerbread men in the cookie-jar cookie section of Meijer (I love those, but they aren’t gingerbread), and some have too much molasses and not enough baking soda, rendering the gingerbread acidic and bitter. This one is perfect; moist, dense, spicy and sweet from the icing. It’s enough to put a girl in the Christmas spirit.
Gingerbread with Brown Sugar Icing
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tbsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves (I didn’t have any, so I omitted this)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest (you could omit this)
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 x 8 pan. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixing bowl, using either a standing mixer, hand mixer or a spoon, beat together the butter, sugar and orange zest. When combined, mix in the egg and molasses and beat until fluffy. Add a third of the dry ingredients, stir until combined. Add half the milk, stir until combined. Add another third of the dry ingredients and stir, the rest of the milk and stir, and finally fold in the remaining third of the dry ingredients. Be careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the greased pan, coaxing it to the edges with a spoon, and bake for about 30 minutes or until springy to the touch.
Brown Sugar Icing from Cupcake Project
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Melt the butter in a saucepan. When it’s melted, stir in the brown sugar and let the mixture come to a boil, stirring constantly. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, then stir in the milk, stirring constantly. Let it come to a boil again (still stirring).
Remove it from the heat and let it cool to lukewarm. Beat in the powdered sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread. If it gets too thick, mix in a little hot water to loosen it up. Full disclosure: I’ve never made this frosting before. Most of my frosting experiences (unless Sue is involved) originate from a can. This is without a doubt the best frosting I’ve ever made myself. It is probably better than all frosting I’ve ever had on a cupcake in a cupcake store. It is second only to Sue’s swiss buttercream. So there.