Every year, I make gingerbread men (and women, bears, and stars) when my whole family gets together. It's one of our little traditions, right up there with staying up until 3 am and watching movies.
Every year, my gingerbread men get lavishly decorated by all the cousins, bedecked with gallons of frosting and buckets of candy.
And every year, they go largely uneaten.
This may have something to do with their ability to chip teeth. Hmmmm.
So I set out this year to find a new, better recipe than the one I'd been using. I searched high and low (online, for 20 minutes) to find the best of the best.
I came back from my quest with two recipes. Only one proved to be a winner. Let me warn you right now- this is going to be a lengthy post.
Before the results, let's look at the recipes themselves! And some photos!
Recipe A: From Elise.com
# 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
# 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
# 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
# 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
# 2 teaspoons ground ginger
# 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
# 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
# 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
# 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
# 1/2 teaspoon salt
# 1 large egg
# 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
Recipie B: From All Recipes.com - Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies
· 1 cup white sugar
· 2 teaspoons ground ginger
· 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1 cup margarine, melted
· 1/2 cup evaporated milk
· 1 cup unsulfured molasses
· 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
· 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Can you guess which one works? Oh, the suspense!
(For the actual cooking directions, hop over to the original sites.)
The First Batch, (Elise.com, hereafter referred to as "Batch A") was tough to work with- it required a minimum of one hour chilling time, which always makes things FUN.
After that, the dough was sticky, it tore easily, and was just generally nasty to work with. I think it needed more flour.
The Colonial Williamsburg recipe (batch B), on the other hand, was a dream to work with. It called for no chilling at all, and it was super easy to work with the dough. (I think I added 2 more cups of flour than they originally called for)
The exciting conclusion!!!
The clear winner is...the first batch, the recipe from Elise.com! The cookies had good flavor, and they were actually sort of soft! Wow! Amazing!
The clear LOOSER was the Colonial Williamsburg recipe. The cookies were awful, hard as rocks, dry as bones, as unappealing as tired cliches. Inedible, and even worse than my old recipe (Which calls for an astounding 7 cups of flour, by the way) (Also: Questions about the "Colonial Williamsburg" recipe: So, they had margarine back then, did they? And evaporated milk as well? And I bet lemon extract was super easy to get a hold of.)
So there you have it. Next time you think to yourself, "Self, I would really like some nice, chewy gingerbread cookies.", think about buying them from a store. Because making them at home seems to be darn near impossible.
p.s.: If anyone has a better recipe, do tell! I am on the hunt.