I have a slight gingerbread problem. We have established this already. I had received some Ninjabread cookie cutters for my birthday. I hadn’t really baked since I made the nerd cookies and I felt it was time to bake and share my creations. The cookie cutters came with a recipe inside that I ignored and promptly referred to the gold standard, The Gourmet Cookbook. I made a few tiny adjustments and eschewed the frosting recommendations because I had my own ideas. Although in hindsight I would probably make my mother’s traditional white icing and call these Ginger LaRussos (for those of you who are younger than I am, Danny LaRusso is the character Ralph Macchio played in the Karate Kid). At any rate, smelling good is inspiring. I should shower and scent myself before I deal with the Black Friday freakshows every year.
Lady Sensory’s Killer Ninjabread Cookies (adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)
2/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap or robust)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoons
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 3/4 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
Cooking spray or butter
Black sanding sugar, black icing (I found ready-made Wilton variety at the store), dried cranberries & red hots (otherwise known as cinnamon imperials) for decoration. Or, make your own icing.
Rolling pin & cookie cutters – I had the ninjas, but standard ginger or any cutter is acceptable. Change up the decorations to suit your mood.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two baking sheets (I actually put parchment on mine and spray the parchment lightly). In a 4-5 qt pan (or fancy pot), heat molasses, brown sugar, spices until boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. The baking soda is going to do this weird thing where it puffs up like a soufflé. Disregard this phenomenon and keep going, adding butter 2-3 tbsp at a time, allowing each addition to melt in between. Add vanilla and beaten egg and stir until combined. Then add the salt, then flour, reserving about 1/4 cup. Lightly flour a surface and turn the dough onto in and knead for a few seconds to help it come together. If it’s sticky, add a little more flour as you knead. Separate the dough into two parts, wrap one half in wax paper or plastic and set aside (keep at room temp as you work). As a side note, try not to freak out as you make these. I was whipping this up in my fancy pot wondering if I would ever get the caramel off the Le Creuset. Trust the process. The dough comes together nicely in the end. Roll one half out until about 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick. Cut your cookies, place on the sheets and apply sanding sugar, red hots and cranberries if you are using them. I put six cutouts on each tray (about 2 inches in between). They don’t expand too much while cooking. Bake cookies for 12 minutes, rotating the trays at around 6 minutes. Keep an eye on them at the 10 minute mark so they don’t burn. Remove from trays and allow to cool. Repeat steps with remaining dough. Decorate with frosting and any other cookie accoutrements you desire. Allow to set for a few hours before packing and transporting. Additionally, you can simply shove your face with any that don’t meet quality control standards while you wait.
Now bring the ninjas to your workplace and enjoy everybody kung-fu fighting over them.