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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies (without molasses)

I adore gingerbread cookies. It's a nostalgia thing for me. I have this mental image of a cookie jar kept on the top shelf of the cabinet in our living room that was filled with miniature gingerbread boys and girls for the whole month of December.
 Every time I eat a gingerbread cookie I remember that Christmas excitement of being a little kid. To me Christmas is not complete without gingerbread cookies.

So my first Christmas in Shanghai I really wanted to make gingerbread cookies, but I didn't want to pay a fortune for a bottle of molasses at City Shop, just so I could use 1/4 cup of it. I couldn't find any Chinese molasses which I thought was odd given how dark and molassesy tasting the brown sugar is here. I realized that I just needed to create a recipe that used the Chinese brown sugar in place of molasses.
So here is my recipe with Chinese brown sugar.
* Chinese brown sugar tends to be really lumpy. Try to avoid big lumps when you measure as they do not break up very well.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Chinese dark brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 - 2 cups flour

Directions:  Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Blend into butter mixture. Chill dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 (175 C) Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes. Bake for 6-8 minutes.

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

Add honey,
and egg and mix well.
Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
Add 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix well. Add more flour as needed until dough comes together and is just a little bit sticky to the touch.

Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hr. (Yes, you do have to do this step- the butter in the dough needs to chill otherwise it will get too hot when you are working with it)
After one hour, preheat oven to 175 C. Divide dough in half and roll out to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thickness.
Cut out shapes. (My gingerbread boy cookie cutter is sadly lost- I think my kids made off with it to use with their playdoh :(
Place on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes each batch.

*Notice that my dough still had some brown sugar lumps in it which show when you bake. I don't mind this- I think it gives them a rustic- old fashioned kind of look.
If desired you can add a glaze or frosting.

*I just made an easy glaze by mixing about 1 tbsp milk with powdered sugar until it was a really thick consistency.  Like almost a dough consistency.
Then I put the glaze in a plastic bag and cut off one corner and used it as a piping bag.
I took these to a party and they were gone within minutes. I got one. Writing this recipe up is making me want to go bake them again!

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