Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gingerbread Skeletons with Royal Icing

I love this gingerbread people recipe.  I usually heap the spices a little, and I think the flavor and texture is just perfect.  You can cook them the minimum amount of time for a chewy cookie, or cook them a few minutes longer for a crisp cookie.  My only complaint really is that these will spread a bit, so plan accordingly.  If you have a molasses aversion you can replace some of it with honey or dark corn syrup, but if you use a mild molasses (as opposed to blackstrap or "full flavor") I don't think it turns out too strong.

I like to split my dough into 2 or 3 pieces and roll each piece out between two pieces of parchment (one on top one on bottom) *before* refrigerating.  Then I just put the cookie sheets in the refrigerator. When the dough is fully chilled the top paper will peel right off and you can cut out your shapes right on the parchment/tray.  Then just peel off the excess dough and throw it in the "re-roll pile" and your tray can go right in the oven. No moving the dough and having appendages break off. Let's not make this harder than it needs to be, shall we?

These gingerbread men keep well (you can even freeze them), so it's best to make them in advance and decorate a different day.  For your own sanity, really.

When you make your royal icing, be sure to sift your sugar.  Royal icing is tricky to get the consistency exactly right.  If it's too thick your icing will break or just plain won't stick.  If it's too thin it will "melt" all over the place.  I like to spoon a teensy bit of icing into a cake decorating tip (not attached to any bag) and just push my thumb into the wide end to make it "flow" and test the consistency.  If you spoon all your icing into a piping bag and the consistency is wrong it is a PAIN to remove it all, rewhip and try to put it back in a bag.  Just trust me on this. If you're not feeling up to royal icing's diva behavior you can totally use a different icing or frosting.  I just like royal because it dries rock hard so I can stack these and put them in little baggies for neighbors.

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