12/22/08

Yuletide Greetings!




Are you guys ready to welcome jolly old Saint Nick with open arms for breaking into your house, raiding your cookie jar, and delivering every present on your list?

Yeah, me too. My heart is thumpin' with anticip . . . ation!

I've been baking goodies all month long, in the hopes that my relentless kissing-up will get me back on Santa's Short, but Nice List , and I've got a few more days to go.

Jeepers. I'm almost willing to bet my little scheme will guarantee a nice present under the tree with my name on it. However, if said plan fails, we're all going out the old fashioned way, guns a blazin'!

Of course, I'm kidding. You don't really think I'd heckle the dude in the red suit, and certainly not three short days before Christmas. Besides, I know I can count on my friends' awesome power of intercession, to bail me out. Be you the friends who will vouch for me? Well, be ya?


In the meantime, I'm hoping this will help clear my name...



Everything you see pictured above is gingerbread. I know it's late to post the instructions for this colossal cookie, but it's actually pretty basic, achieved with mostly straight cuts for the rustic sign, ribbons and bow.
The pine boughs and pine cones were rolled into 2½" long sticks, and the pine cones were rolled into slightly-elongated oval shapes. They were all baked, and cooled completely before piping the needles and petals with royal icing, using #4 tip for needles, and #102 for petals.

I used white royal icing for all the "greenery" and once they were completely set, they were airbrushed in the appropriate colors. You could also paint them, following the instructions here.
Once fully dried, the pine cones were lightly dusted with gold petal dust to give them some depth.

The bow consisted of two pieces, each about 4½" long. Each piece was wrapped around (greased and floured) cannoli tubes, and baked. Allowed to cool at least 15 minutes before sliding off the molds.

Here's the recipe for the gingerbread I use. This is an old recipe, which is pretty tasty and also pretty strong, and it's the only one I use for gingerbread houses and even the choo-choo train on the right. I've also used it for making Christmas tree decorations. You hear that Santa baby? I be good.



Gingerbread



1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
4½ cups AP flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking soda


Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, molasses and salt, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Set mixture aside to cool.
Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in cooled molasses mixture and blend well. Dough will be stiff. Knead lightly until it just comes together.
Press dough into a thick flat disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll  out dough onto a lightly-floured surface to a ¼" thickness. Bake gingerbread on parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies for several minutes, or until they're firm enough to lift. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.


Peace and Joy to you, my friends.