Christmas comes but once a year and with it, all those signature Christmas cookies. My family bakes and feasts on carmelitas, coconut macaroons, raspberry walnut thumbprints, anisettes, butterballs and of course, sugar cookies. That’s a little too ambitious for me. While all the cookie freaks out there are busy perfecting the sprinkle to frosting ratio on their anginettes and frequenting their third cookie swap of the week, I’m over here just waiting for my ninja cookie cutter kit and dreaming up ginger bread cookie fight scenes. This year I want to do something a little less, well, cookie cutter. Gingerbread is my absolute favorite cookie to make – the cutouts are always fun, plus icing the little guys after they come out of the oven is the perfect opportunity to flex my artistic muscles.
I found a unique take on gingerbread cookies in Maple Syrup Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, 3rd Edition by Ken Haedrich (Storey Publishing, December 2015). The cookbook really shows off the versatility of this North American favorite. Arguably one of the most versatile sweeteners on the planet, maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. When it isn’t poured over your breakfast in a sweet and sticky puddle it actually has a subtle bouquet that can be used in salad dressings, fondues, grilled salmon and pumpkin soup—not to mention your favorite desserts. Maple Syrup Cookbook contains timeless classics like maple syrup candies (these remind me of childhood trips to the Adirondacks and Canada) or maple fudge, maple-apple pie, or upside down skillet pear tart. If you want to stretch your imagination, try maple-glazed Brussels sprouts, orange-maple wings or maple-vinegar roasted pork. For a fun family activity that is fairly simple to put together, these blonde ginger cutout cookies are perfect for your next Christmas baking session.
Blonde Ginger Cutout Cookies
Author’s Note: These are a lot like gingerbread cookies. They’re my kids’ favorite cookie to make, and they cut them into all sorts of shapes. It’s important to chill the dough for at least two hours before you roll it, otherwise it will be difficult to handle.
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup (51/3 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 cup pure maple syrup, at room temperature
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups unbleached all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Cream together the shortening and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla.
- In a separate large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Work this into the creamed mixture, about 1 cup at a time. Using floured hands, divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap, each flattened into a disk. Chill for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Roll the dough out, one part at a time, onto a sheet of waxed paper; make it a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut into whatever shapes you like, transfer to the baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden. Let cool briefly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Excerpted from The Maple Syrup Cookbook, 3rd. Ed. (c) Ken Haedrich. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.
Main image via fashionsolutions.eu