With our annual holiday party rapidly approaching this weekend chez Chalson, it’s time to do some of the baking and cooking to get ready. Now, I didn’t photograph my double batch of homemade meatballs and sauce because (1) frankly, I forgot; and (2) even if I had remembered, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have wanted my iPhone covered in raw meatball. So you’ll have to take my word for it that those are already made and in the freezer waiting for their big reveal 🙂
BUT, what was also whipped up this past weekend and is also safely hibernating in said freezer is another treat, my all-time favorite recipe for gingerbread cookies.
These gingerbread cookies have relatively unremarkable origins. In fact, the recipe was included in a special holiday cookie edition of the 1991 Better Homes and Gardens magazine and what’s more, the recipe was just tacked onto part of an advertisement for using Domino sugar in your holiday baking. By my rudimentary calculations, that means that my mom and/or I have been making this recipe every year for the past 20 years (Mom, that went fast, huh?). So maybe, in a way, this recipe is the perfect example of where storied and memorable recipes come from – something of otherwise ordinary circumstances being incorporated into an annual tradition and becoming part of the fabric of what you remember most and best.
It certainly helps matters, when it comes to walking down memory lane, that I’m using my mom’s old rolling pin and cloth that I grew up using to make this year’s batch of cookies. (Well, the FIRST batch this year. I can eat a lot of gingerbread. Think….Hoover vacuum…..) I’m sure I sound like a broken record when it comes to talking about how, in the kitchen, I do so many things exactly the way that I learned them, but the picture above is just further proof that I practice what I preach: my little bowl of flour for dusting my cloth and pin, and keeping my cutters floured, is just what my mom would do. I’m sure that I keep it there for good and practical reasons, but I also think I keep it there to ensure a bit of baking kharma comes my way, too.
As usual, the dough behaved just as I expected and I got as many cookies as I expected and they needed 8 minutes in the oven for each batch just as I expected. There’s a comfort to the routine and the rhythm of recreating a familiar recipe one more time, a comfort that takes what might be a time-consuming task on your long to-do list and turns it into a moment that you can experience and enjoy right now, in the present.
(PS: don’t judge our as yet un-ornamented tree – that’s part of the merriment of the holiday party. What, you don’t think I invite people over and not make them work, do you??)
Once the cookies have cooled, I’m always a bit torn. I honestly prefer my gingerbread plain, unfrosted, and particularly in the morning with coffee. But gingerbread cookies for the holidays, and especially cookies for a party, need….a heaping helping of gaudy. So out comes the confectioner’s sugar and colored sugars. Thanks to my significantly limited decorating abilities and my husband’s steady sprinkling abilities, I give you:
2011’s first crop of frosted gingerbread. They’d never make the cover of Martha Stewart Living, but I’d like to think that’s because they’d be eaten too fast. Yes, that’s the reason.
Let the partying begin!