W has been asking to listen to the Johnny Depp Christmas song. I inquired as to which that might be. “You know, the one that says ‘let’s be Johnny Depp’!”
I eventually deciphered it: “voices singing let’s be Johnny Depp! the halls with boughs of holly…”
If this weekend had a flavour, it would have been gingerbread. On Saturday, one batch was enough for W and 6 friends/cousins to roll, cut, bake and decorate. The thing I love about working with gingerbread dough: as you reroll and cut the scraps, rather than get dry, tough and crumbly, the dough gets wonderfully smooth and leathery; I’m quite certain no kid has complained about the finished product.
On Sunday, my sister made a whole neighbourhood of gingerbread houses – one for each family to decorate. The were connected and reinforced with molten sugar so as to structurally tolerate a maximum candy load.
On Sunday night, baths were necessary to rid everyone of excess icing.
Spiced Orange Gingerbread Cookies
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup cold water or orange juice
grated zest of half an orange (optional)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, molasses, water and orange zest with an electric mixer or by hand until smooth. In another large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt and cloves.
Add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture, stirring by hand just until you have a soft dough. Divide the dough in half, shape each piece into a disc, wrap in plastic and let sit for half an hour, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/8” thick. Cut out with cookie cutters and place about an inch apart on a parchment-lined sheet.
Bake for 12–15 minutes, until set and slightly darker golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies, or a house or two.