…these kinds of recipes are my favourite. Passed from friend to friend, handwritten on a recipe card. Well, this one begs to be shared, and tried. Every year I try different gingerbread recipes, and they never seem quite right – too dry, not enough spices…etc. Well, my search is over. May I present Debbie’s Chocolate Gingerbread People. Purists may balk at the idea of cocoa added to gingerbread, but I confess, I come from the cooking philosophy of “double the chocolate and add bacon”. Rest assured however, there is no bacon in these cookies…Debbie is a friend and a lovely knitter as well. I will be forever grateful for this awesome recipe!
Debbie’s Chocolate Gingerbread People
2 cups light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. each cinnamon and ground ginger
1/2 tsp. each allspice and salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Method: Measure brown sugar, spices, cocoa, baking soda into a very large bowl (I used the bowl of an electric mixer). Add boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved and spices are evenly distributed. Stir in softened butter until melted and all is combined. Stir in molasses. Gradually stir in 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Then stir/knead in the remainder 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is fine enough to handle. Dough can be rolled out right away, or wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for baking later. Dough may also be frozen for later use.
Preheat oven to 325 F. If not already, bring dough to room temperature. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes and make in centre of oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not over bake! Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
One of the great things about this recipe, in addition to the wonderful flavour, is the striking contrast between the dark cookie and the white royal icing commonly used on gingerbread. Here is a simple royal icing recipe: 500 grams (about 1 lb) icing sugar, 5 Tbsp. of meringue powder and a scant half cup of water. Mix on low until combined, then on medium until you have a fluffy white icing. Keep a damp tea towel over your royal icing as you work, because this stuff dries fast! My son, who was home sick today, was delighted to help cut out cookie shapes, and help decorate.
The dough was a dream to handle, although mine was a bit soft and I ended up kneading about another 1/2 cup of flour into it. Fun! It is also nice to use some of my cookie cutters. They are something I collect when I (rarely) travel. But, if and when I spot a unique cookie cutter, it makes a great, inexpensive souvenir. The Rudolph cookie pictured here is actually a moose cookie cutter I picked up this summer in New Hampshire – I think it makes a great reindeer, too.
On the knitting front, I have pretty much stuck a fork into my Christmas knitting. I churned out 3 felted hotwater bottle covers over the last week and a half, and well, that’s all folks! Last night, I contemplated at long last some “me” knitting, and wouldn’t you know it, I was stumped. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time on Ravelry over the next few days in order to make up my mind.