What would the holidays be without your favorite cookies? I know at our house it’s a given that the two recipes I’m sharing today are regulars on the holiday treat list.
The first recipe, Maggie’s gingerbread cutouts, comes from daughter-in-law Jessie’s family. They are a treasured cookie from daughter-in-law Jessie’s mom, Maggie Hoerst’s family. Jess and her sister Lottie make these every year with Maggie. If you’re looking for a tender, flavorful gingerbread cookie, you have to make this.
My offering is a perennial favorite. It’s special to me because I found the recipe years ago in a food magazine at the doctor’s office while waiting for my dad to finish his appointment. I remember tearing the recipe out, hoping no one was looking. My dad, Charlie Nader, loved cookies. He was a talented artist, and when my boys were little, I’d let them decorate the cookies for him. Praise from him for their “artwork” always followed before he took the first bite.
What’s your favorite holiday memory or recipe? Let me know!
Maggie Hoerst’s gingerbread cutouts
1 cup solid shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup molasses (unsulphured if possible)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
5 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered cloves
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.
Add egg, molasses and vinegar, beat well. Sift dry ingredients into it and blend. Refrigerate 3 hours.
Roll and cut out. Bake at 375 for 5-6 minutes.
To decorate, use favorite frosting or Jessie’s buttercream.
Jessie’s buttercream frosting
1 pound powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
Rita’s foolproof shortbread cutouts
This was one of the first cookies I learned to make. Let the kids freeform shapes, or use a cookie cutter. Dough freezes well, and so does the baked cookie, sans icing. A nice gift from the kitchen and my most requested shortbread recipe.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. Cream butter and gradually add sugar.
Blend flour mixture in. Dough will be soft.
Roll out on lightly floured surface or between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment to about 1/4 inch. If dough is too soft to cut out shapes with, put in fridge for about 30 minutes.
Cut out and place on sprayed cookie sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes just until edges are golden.
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons water
Drizzle icing over cooled cookies, or make a thicker icing with less water, add food coloring if using, and spread on cookies. Makes about 2 dozen.
Tips from Rita’s Kitchen: How to test baking soda, baking powder and yeast for freshness.
Baking soda test
Stir in 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.
Baking powder test
Put 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. While you won’t see quite the vigorous reaction you get from baking soda/vinegar, the mixture should definitely bubble and foam.
Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in a packet of active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast. Let sit 8-10 minutes. Mixture will start too bubble and expand if it’s still active. Add mixture to your recipe, reducing liquid in recipe by 1/2 cup.
For step-by-step photos, check out my abouteating.com site.
Grandma’s apron poem
Rita Nader Heikenfeld is an herbalist, educator, Jungle Jim’s Eastgate culinary professional and author. Find her blog online at Abouteating.com. Email her at rita@com munitypress.com with “Rita’s kitchen” in the subject line.
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