Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cooking Up A Story: The Gingerbread Boy

For our last Cooking Up A Story post for 2012 we chose The Gingerbread Boy, retold and illustrated by Richard Egielski. In it, Egielski brings the story of the gingerbread boy to the big city - New York City to be exact. A childless couple makes a cookie boy to love but he jumps right off the pan and into an adventure that takes him past many of New York's landmarks and right into Central Park. He meets a few of the locals along the way but his story comes to a shocking end when...well, I won't spoil it for you.

After reading this book, we had to make gingerbread men, of course. For ours we decided to amp up the ginger flavor, multiplying it by three. That's right - three kinds of ginger are used in this recipe and the result is a ginger lover's dream.

This recipe also uses an ingredient I picked up while we were in Australia, something that I had long read about (being a tried and true Anglophile) but never actually tasted - Treacle. Similar to molasses, treacle has a deep flavor to match it's color and is traditionally used in making gingerbread but it's okay to substitute molasses. I also used coconut sugar - not something you would traditionally find in gingerbread, but something I was interested in trying as it is a less processed sugar - but you could easily substitute brown sugar instead.

Triple G Gingerbread Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

2/3 cup treacle
2/3 cup organic coconut sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon candied ginger, macerated with the back of a spoon or in a mortar 
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour
Flour for dusting

In a small saucepan, bring the treacle and coconut sugar to a low simmer. Stir in the gingers and the cinnamon before slowly adding the butter, allowing each piece to melt before adding another. Once all the butter has been incorporated, remove the saucepan from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg and then add a small amount of the treacle mixture, whisking to temper the eggs. Once the eggs are tempered, add them to the treacle mixture and stir. Pour this mixture into the bowl of a stand mixture. Add the baking soda and salt and begin mixing, gradually adding the flours until the mixture make a smooth, moist dough.

Scrape the dough out onto a generously floured clean surface and knead it slightly. Shape into two discs and refrigerate for at least two hours.

When you are ready to make your cookies, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up slightly before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You don't need to space these too far apart as they really don't spread out. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before decorating.

We used melted white chocolate and really liked how it complemented the spiciness of the ginger. You could also use royal icing or a stiff buttercream to decorate. 


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