Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gingerbread Freaks!

It's that "wonderful" time of the year, when Ron and I make our traditional cookie to share with friends and family: Gingerbread Freaks! I make the dough and bake the cookies. We frost them in bizarre fashion and then create a narrative about each cookie character. 

Here's a cookie depiction of our friend, winemaker Shannon O'Neill of Maloy O'Neill Vineyard!

This year, the best of 2008 are featured on YouTube in a video called Gingerbread Freak Show!

We chose the sanctioned androgynous "gingerbread person" as our main cutout shape, supplementing with guitars, eighth notes, and butterflies for a pleasing array and broad palette for both decoration and narrative!

Here is my cookie portrait of a fictional character I call "Hannah Montana's Backup Guitarist."

He's got three guitar picks in his left hand, while standing next to his Hannah Montana signature Flower Power acoustic guitar with custom pickups.

A note to the wise:

Be sure to watch the pageant with your most open-minded friends and family members, as some of the characters are "edgy" and not compatible with the "warm fuzzy" that is Christmastime!

Take, for example, I.T. Parker in Distress, after a tragic accident while splitting a cord of Redwood:

Following is a fabulous recipe I found on RecipeZaar and embellished a bit, plus a recipe for Royal Icing.


3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses and vanilla and continue to mix until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
(Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temperature before using.)

Preheat oven to 375°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place one portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Use additional flour to avoid sticking. Cut out cookies with desired cutter and place on baking sheet 1-½ inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes. Allow the cookies to stand until firm enough to move to a wire rack. Cool your freaks completely before decorating outlandishly with Royal Icing. Use the broken pieces, too, as these make for interesting freaks!


3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons water
1 pound confectioners' sugar

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat slowly until they are all blended. Then beat at medium speed until the icing forms stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Add more sugar if the icing is not stiff enough, or a few drops of water if it is too stiff. Divide into small bowls if making colored icing. Use immediately or cover the bowl with a damp cloth to prevent drying when not in use. Allow at least 24 hours for royal icing decorations to dry, at room temperature.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups