What's Xmas without Gingerbread Men?

I wanted to decorate the tree with cookies this year, and I saw quite a few cute ideas online featuring Gingerbread Men..alas I didn't have a man-shaped cookie cutter - so I improvised and used the shapes I had.

From a whole load of gingerbread recipes I chose one from the joyofbaking.com, just because it was Xmas Eve and my first time to make gingerbread cookies, I wanted the cookies to be ready for Xmas morning, so I didn't have time to try different recipes.

As suggested in the recipe I made the dough and put it in the fridge overnight, this dough is really sticky - so yes that was definitely a good idea. Baking on Xmas morning and eating freshly made cookies was a bonus too.

I didn't make any changes, except I didn't use confectioners frosting and we just made a simple icing using icing sugar, hot water and food colouring.

Gingerbread Men Recipe: 

3 cups (390 grams) all purpose flour 
1/4 teaspoons salt 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
2 teaspoons ground ginger 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar 
1 large egg 
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsulphured molasses 
(To prevent the molasses from sticking to the measuring cup, spray with a non stick vegetable spray.) 

Confectioners Frosting: 
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted 
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 1/2 tablespoons milk or light cream 

Gingerbread Men

In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture beating until incorporated. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half 
in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the cookies.  With an offset spatula lift the cut out 
cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart.  If you are hanging the cookies or using as gift tags, make a hole at the top of the cookies with a straw or end of a wooden skewer. 

Bake for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.  Small ones will take about 8 minutes, larger cookies will take about 12 minutes.  
They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. 
Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minute.  When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

If desired, you can press raisins, currants, or candies into the dough for eyes and buttons while the cookies are still warm.  Otherwise, confectioners frosting can be used to decorate the cookies.  You can also use the icing as a glue to attach candies, raisins, and sprinkles. 

Confectioners Frosting:  In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar.  Scrape down the sides of the 
bowl and beater.  Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).  Add a little more milk if too dry.  Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and decorate the gingerbread 
men as desired. Tint portions of frosting with desired food color. Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter used. Store in an airtight container. 

Delectable Chocolate Cookies

its xmas time, and Cairo isn't a very christmassy place, so I feel very nostalgic for how xmas felt back when I was growing up in England - the tree, the pressies and of course the food.

in the run up to xmas this year i have decided i will attempt to make some of my xmas presents in the kitchen, this is the first recipe i will try - killing two birds with one stone seeing as my little one has specifically requested that i make him some chocolate cookies today. did i mention that this is my first attempt at making cookies?

the recipe was taken from joyofbaking.com, my favourite baking website. 

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1/2 cup (105 grams) light brown sugar 
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour 
1/4 cup (30 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups (260 grams) white chocolate chips or chunks 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.  
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).  
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.  
First sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt and then add to the butter and egg mixture.  Mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the the chocolate chips. 
Using a small ice cream scoop, or two spoons, place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter on the baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. 
Bake for approximately 8 - 10 minutes or until the the cookies are still soft in the center but are firm around the edges.  
Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Makes about 24 - 3 inch round cookies. 

i only made a few changes: i used all brown sugar, i used a lot less chocolate chunks because i didn't have that much chocolate in the cupboard, i'd say about half of the amount mentioned in the recipe - also it wasn't white chocolate.

i don't know why but the recipe didn't yield the intended 24 cookies, and made only 18. i had to cook them for 18 mins rather than 8-10 mins - plus i had to make them into balls with my hands, a bit like making kofta. This was because the dough was too dry to drop off the spoon.

Little One Approval (Very hard to come by)
 But they came out yummy nevertheless :) 

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