Spicy Gingerbread Twigs from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012

So here we are almost a full week into December and only twenty days away from Christmas. Wreaths are appearing on doors, lights are twinkling in windows and cookie cutters are being pulled out from the back of the cupboard.

Ah, the cookies. So, so many cookies. Drop, rolled, cut; you name it, they’re out there already.

I confess that I’m a bit lazy when it comes to cookies. I’m not overly skilled in the decorating arena so piping icing on cut-out sugar bells and angels is not my forté. I do best when a recipe calls for minimal preparation and no finish work.

That being said, I love things that are unique; a little different than the norm. In fact, the whole reason I included Better Homes and Gardens this month is for this one recipe. I fell in love with the photo on page 132 and knew what my cookie exchange contribution would be next week.

The Process

While I love gingerbread, sugar and all those other cut-out cookies, one thing I am not fond of is having to wait for an hour or so between when I mix the dough and when I can roll, cut and bake the cookies.

Enter the twigs. Prep time, bake time. No in between time.

Making the dough is a simple matter of combining the wet ingredients with the dry. After a quick knead, the dough is rolled out, cut, baked, re-cut and baked again. It’s a bit like biscotti, only skinny.

The recipe called for me to roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. While the bottom sheet is very helpful in moving the dough around after it’s cut, I found the top sheet to be more of a hassle and ended up removing it and just rolling the dough without it.

Similarly, once the sugar is sprinkled on, the directions asked that I press it into the dough with the parchment over it. It was easier to make sure that I wasn’t pressing too hard without the paper.

In my book the bottom sheet of parchment is absolutely necessary; the top sheet, more of a bother than anything.

The Verdict

Wow. All three of us say ‘wow.’ These little guys are seriously addicting. I haven’t told Dudette that there’s a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper in her cookies, and even though she commented that they were spicy, she doesn’t seem to care. She’s had them for dessert and asked that they be included in her lunch this morning.

The twigs are a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, just like gingerbread should be, but the heat that hits the back of your throat a moment after your swallow is just fantastic. With coffee; phenomenal.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I was a little light on the sugar sprinkling this time, but I think for the cookie exchange I’ll be more generous and add a batch with green sugar as well as the white.

Spicy Gingerbread Twigs from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Cookie
Cuisine: American
Serves: 80

Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅓ cup mild or medium molasses (not blackstrap)
  • ¼ cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • ⅓ cup coarse clear or green sugar, or turbinado sugar
  • White or clear edible decorating glitter (optional)

Instructions
  1. Position a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Set aside two large baking sheets and four 15-inch-long pieces of parchment.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, allspice, and cayenne pepper, if using, until well blended. Thoroughly mash out sugar lumps with the back of the spoon.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together butter, molasses, and coffee until very well blended. Immediately, add butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring vigorously, until evenly incorporated.
  4. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead with your hands for 30 seconds to make it smoother and more malleable. If dough is too dry or crumbly to roll out, work in a few drops of water until it holds together; if too wet, thoroughly knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour.
  5. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion between two pieces of parchment into a 6×12-inch rectangle. If necessary, cut and patch to make the sides roughly even. (Don’t worry about making it perfect.) Peel off top pieces of parchment. Evenly sprinkle each rectangle with about 3 tablespoons coarse sugar and about 1 tablespoon edible glitter, if desired. Lay parchment over dough; gently pressing sugar into dough. Remove top pieces of parchment.
  6. Using a pizza cutter or a large knife, cut each rectangle into ¼- to ⅓x6-inch strips. It’s OK to leave edges uneven. Slide rectangle and parchment onto baking sheets.
  7. Working with one rectangle at a time, bake for 13 to 16 minutes or until just firm when pressed in the center and edges are browned. Immediately slide rectangle and parchment onto a cutting board. Quickly (before rectangle cools and becomes brittle) retrace the cuts between strips and cut off uneven edges. (If necessary, return rectangle to the oven; warm until soft enough to work with.) Discard the uneven, overbaked end sections.
  8. Reduce oven to 200 degrees F. When rectangle is cool enough to handle, use your hands to gently separate strips. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle with additional edible glitter. Bake for 10 minutes. Slide strips and parchment onto a wire rack; cool completely.

 

 

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15 Responses to Spicy Gingerbread Twigs from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012

  1. I love these! Cute, tasty, spicy — what else can we ask for? :D

  2. PattiT says:

    I love the way you photographed these, and they do sound tasty.

  3. LOVE these! I think they'd be such a fun addition to a cookie swap or holiday dessert table and so much less pretentious than overly decorated sugar cookies (though don't get me wrong, I'd eat either of them in a heartbeat) :)

  4. food_dreamer says:

    These are way cool! And such a fun way to make cookies at Xmas.

  5. These are beguiling! And so original! Congrats on Tastespotting too!

  6. Such a lovely presentation and a creative way to make gingerbread!

  7. thatskinnychickcanbake says:

    I LOVE everything about these! How perfect for a cookie exchange!

  8. Ramona says:

    Wow…this picture deserves to be in a magazine!! I love these fun little twigs. :)

  9. Diethood -noun- The state of being on a diet... always! says:

    Whoa that photo is gorgeous!! These would definitely add a lot of cheer to any holiday table. Beautiful!

    P.S. I hate the in between time, too!!

  10. sportsglutton says:

    Fun twist on gingerbreads…I like it!

  11. katherine says:

    I, too, found this in BHG and, while they are a bit of trouble to make, they are delicious and people love them. I gave them as gift, packaged in a Mason jar with a big red velvet bow tied around it. Friends love them!

  12. Toni says:

    I made them, too. I found gold and dark green sugars, both rough-granulated, at a bulk supply store and loved the effect of different colored twigs. Definitely worth the time and effort. (I had no problems with the waxed paper on the top)

  13. Angie G. says:

    Okay – I've made 2 batches, and here's my opinion…
    I agree that the top sheet of paper was a pain, and didn't bother with it the second time. The first time, I reduced the cayenne to 1/8 tsp, because my daughter also commented on the spiciness and I thought that might make them more palatable for the kiddos in my life. The result was still tasty, but they need the full 1/4 tsp. They just weren't "right". I used red and green sugars, the same ones I use for sugar cookies – pretty!
    Thanks for this recipe – it is going on all of my goodie trays this Christmas!

  14. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the comments and the pictures. I am about to make the recipe for the first time today, for a cookie swap. I thought I'd just google and see if anyone had tried same recipe. Glad to read that the cookies are delish (how awful to. Go to an cookie swap with cookies no one wants!) and they look so pretty in the photo. I bought gold edible glitter to jazz them up. Fun!!!

  15. They would be delightful for the holidays. From the picture, those batches are too good to eat. Some salt (just a pinch) over the batch would be wonderful.




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