I know I’ve already been writing about Christmas cooking and baking, but I’m having trouble grasping the fact that it’s actually time again to talk about holiday baking and all things wintery and December-ish. The lack of snow in our region is also hindering my “Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas” vibes, too. It feels like (and possibly was) only a few weeks ago that I was still able to walk out of the house without a coat and in flipflops.
Granted, I could do that now if I wanted to, but the incipient frostbite is not really worth it.
One of the few things I look forward to all winter is when it’s time to make gingerbread cookies with my friends and family again. It’s become a bit of a tradition over the last several years, and ever since we moved into our new house I’ve been able to expand my offer of cookie baking and decorating to more friends at one time (our cramped apartment wasn’t really cutting it for groups of over three).
With so many of us working full-time jobs, it’s been a challenge to be able to fit this tradition into our lives, but I’ve found it’s made it easier to have the cookie baking day separate from the cookie decorating day. And if nobody’s available for the baking part, then that’s fine with me; I get to choose all of the cutters that get used…and if there happen to be more ninja, porcupine and moose cutouts than there are Christmas stars, angels and Santa stockings, well that’s just too bad. 😉
Some of the prettiest, as well as some of the most horrendously decorated cookies have come out of these get-togethers of mine, but really it’s more about the connection with friends and family, and having fun than stressing out making a perfectly-decorated cookie.
With this year’s cookie decorating party being very different from the past several years (i.e. cancelled, le sigh…), I feel that I will simply have to obtain my jollies by writing about it instead of doing it. And to that end, I will confess that I don’t use my own developed recipe for this one, as I’ve found the PERFECT cut-out gingerbread cookie recipe from the amazing cooks at Canadian Living magazine, and I simply cannot improve upon it in any way. (*chef’s kiss*).
CAVEAT: I have made one significant change to this recipe when I am making it for my dairy-free friends, and that is to sub in equal amounts of coconut oil for the butter. Please note, if you want to make this change as well, you will find it can make your dough quite dry and sandy, which means it becomes challenging to roll out once it has had time to chill in the fridge. Fear not, bravehearts, I have a solution!
While you are attempting to roll out the sandy monstrosity, do two things: have a small dish of ice water to hand, and keep dipping your fingers into it and sprinkling it onto your dough (sparingly!) as you work. Secondly, save your sanity and roll your gingerbread dough between a large folded piece of parchment or waxed paper; keep forcing the dough together while lightly sprinkling it with the water, and it will work out, I promise. My DF friends have been RAVING about this recipe since I started using this method, and who am I to question my adoring public? (*slow blink*).
So good luck and happy baking! You still have time to make these before Christmas should you choose. It’s a fun and low-cost activity for family to decorate cookies, with a great payoff in that you get to eat your creations, be they lovely or hideous. Can’t say that about PlayDoh….at least I hope not. Ew.
Happy Holidays from the Birdhouse! ❤