It seems like every month the Lord decides to test us with new trials and new decisions in our marriage. This month it is patience. Patience is something that I often lack and something that often makes me even more impatient. Me and my wonderful husband are in the middle of deciding where the Lord is taking us with our marriage and our future careers. We are in the process of deciding where we want to raise our future children, where we would feel most at home, and where we want to settle. Unfortunately, the answer never comes right away and it takes a great deal of patience and faith. We would like to like somewhere other then Arizona, we just do not know where that somewhere is yet; which is frustrating beyond measure. Patience has also been handed to us with Kyle's job search. He just got his personal trainers degree, and would love to start training clients right away, yet the job search is few and wide. Just like these darn cookies, that took an immense amount of patience out of me between the rolling, cutting, freezing, baking, frosting, and repeat until about 2 hours of my night were slipped away. Patience is a virtue that I just do not have, and that I pray one day I acquire.
I am sure that it is this way for most people, that as the holidays near, the busier life gets and the faster time goes by. I cannot believe that it has already been a month since I posted a new recipe, I cannot believe that christmas is in two and a half weeks and I cannot believe that it is now christmas time, which means I have been married for six months now. As odd as it is that this year is full of new traditions and new surroundings for christmas, I could not be more thankful that this marks the first christmas as a married couple. I am so thankful that my parents and family are only 45 minutes away, so we still are able to have a 'normal' christmas with most of the same traditions that we always have.
One of the traditions me, my sisters, and my mom would do every year is bake cookies. We love to bake and we love to eat so it was the perfect combination. This year I started off my christmas cookie baking in our quiet home, listening to Michael Buble christmas, and it just somehow felt right. It was the start of new traditions. Now of course sometime later this month we will have our annual cookie day, but for now this most definitely held me over. I chose to make the gingerbread cookie because these by far are my favorite cookie. I love the strong molasses taste, the chewy texture, and of course the royal icing that tops it all off. I make my gingerbread men a little different then most because I do not add any ginger. Mainly because we never had it in the house growing up, so we never added it, and then it just kind of became habit and taste preference to leave it out.
I hope you enjoy and use these gingerbread men at one of your holiday cookie exchange parties!
yields about 2 dozen depending on the size of the cookie cutter
for the cookies:
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 cup dark molasses
2 tablespoons milk
In a food processor, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15-20 seconds. With machine still running, gradually add the molasses and milk, process until dough is evenly moistened and forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
Scrape dough onto your work surface and divide into half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/4 inch thick layer between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving the sandwiched dough between the parchment paper, stack on cookie sheets and freeze until firm, 15-20 minutes. Or refrigerate for 2 hours. You can refrigerate overnight if you place the dough in saran wrap and place in a ziplock bag.
Adjust oven rack in the middle position and heat oven to 350º F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper
Once you take out of freezer, remove the parchment paper, cut the dough with your cookie cutter and carefully remove using a wide metal spatula and place on your cookie sheet 3/4 inches apart. With the remaining dough, roll out again and place in freezer. Repeat steps with remaining dough until there is none left. (TIP: while the cookies are baking, since you can only fit one pan at a time, let the other dough rest in the freezer that way they are easier to cut.)
Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes. Rotate the cookies half way through. Do not over bake!! Cool cookies on the cookie sheet for two minutes and then transfer to cooling rack, cool to room temperature.
for the royal icing:
3 cups confectioners sugar
about 1/4 cup milk (add more or less depending on desired consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together with a whisk until smooth and glossy.
Carefully hold the cookies and dip the front side into the icing. Let set on cooling rack.
*If you are looking for a different royal icing you can try this one*