29 December 2009

holiday baking review: gluten-free gingerbread cutouts

Would you believe this was my first time making gingerbread cookies from scratch? Sure, I've made gingerbread cake plenty of times, and make a mean ginger-molasses cookie. But this year, H had her heart set on gingerbread girls, so I searched around for a recipe that looked foolproof.

I'm pretty impressed with the one I found--this one, from Food Network. It received great reviews. I always read at least a sampling of the comments so I can learn from other people's mistakes. :) One commenter made this recipe gluten-free by substituting Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour for the all-purpose flour. Easy enough--I have a sister-in-law-to-be with celiac disease, so gluten-free gingerbread people would be fabulous. *Note: the side of Bob's bag recommends adding xantham gum when making cookies. I didn't have any, and didn't have time to run to the store, so I skipped it. The cookies turned out perfectly fine.
Lots of commenters doubled the spices in the recipe and raved about the spiciness. I will try that sometime, but this time was for the kids so I kept it mellow. And even at the strength given in the recipe, this was a very flavorful cookie.

It also baked up nice and chewy, like I wanted. I tried to make them chewy by not rolling the dough too thin and not baking them for too long. But they're quite soft, so I think even if I had rolled them thinner or baked them longer, they'd still be chewy. (One note--they do get softer after a couple of days if kept in an airtight container, so if you plan on baking ahead, place parchment or waxed paper between each cookie layer when storing.)

We pulled out all the stops, with royal icing and decorations galore. I was worried about the raw egg whites in the icing, so I shelled out $7.50 for a can of powdered egg whites. The expiration date on the can is 2013, so I'll be making lots of royal icing in the next three years.

I invited the kids to help decorate. J only lasted for a couple of cookies, then decided it was more fun to lick the decorations off his fingers. H lasted quite a while, but eventually bored with the process.
The recipe made about three dozen cookies, so I spent lots of time decorating solo. But it was fun. Brought back childhood memories. :)

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