December 27, 2010

Gingerbread Little Piggies!

Gingerbread is just wonderful, isn't it? Here's a gingerbread cookie recipe that has wonderful flavor- and depending on the size of your cookies and cooking time, you can determine how hard or soft you want your cookies! This post was inspired by my Mom, who has a new found love for gingerbread after a recent trip to Germany around Christmastime. She brought back some lebkuchen, a variety of German gingerbread, which were so delicious! She decided she liked the orange flavored lebkuchen the best. While these are not really lebkuchen, the vibrant orange flavor inspired me!

You may be wondering... why would you want gingerbread cookies in the shape of pigs? Isn't the right question 'why wouldn't you want gingerbread cookies shaped like pigs? Or lobsters for that matter? Go crazy people!' I for one like to make cookies in unusual shapes... Isn't is a little bit fun?

5 1/2 cups flour (plus more for rolling)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
11 Tbsp. unsalted butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses (measured in a liquid measuring cup), not black strap
zest of one whole orange
1 egg (room temperature)
1/4 cup buttermilk (full fat if possible)
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. orange extract

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and shortening. Add the sugar, molasses and orange zest, mix well. Use a spatula if you need to- there may not yet be enough in the bowl to make it all mix well together. Add the egg and buttermilk and mix. In a small cup, combine the water and baking soda, add to the butter and shortening mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine 5 cups of flour with the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, mace, cardamom and allspice. Add the flour and spices, but not all at once, to the butter and shortening mixture. A sticky dough will form. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour to the dough and mix. The dough will be pretty sticky, but will hold together. Separate into three portions, wrap each portion in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours.

Once your dough is sufficiently chilled, preheat your oven to 350 and position your rack in the center. Using a little flour underneath the dough and spreading a little over the top of the dough, roll out one of the three portions of dough. What's great about this dough is that it isn't hard once it is chilled, so you can pretty much roll it out right out of the fridge. The downside of this, though, is that you have a limited amount of time to roll it and get your shapes cut out. If your dough is too sticky, use more flour, you can even spread flour over the rolling pin. If your dough is too soft, chill it again, maybe using the freezer if you want to speed it up. Use a spatula if you need to to transfer your cookies to the baking sheet.

Now these little pig shapes, which are so cute, don't you think? are very small. So if you are making larger cookies, you'll need to adjust your baking time upward just a tad. So go ahead and cut out your adorable cookie shapes and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. If you have more to do before you bake them, pop the cookies that have already been cut out but not baked back in the fridge so they'll keep their shapes nicely!

Before you bake your cookies, you can decorate them! Use colored sugar or sprinkles- I made my little piggies pink with some beautiful pink sugar crystals. So if your cookies are tiny, like these little pigs, which might be and 1 1/2" long, bake for just 8 minutes at 350. When you take them out of the oven, let them rest on the baking sheet for just a minute or two before using a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy! These little piggies may become a favorite!

1 comment:

Magnolia Moxie said...

These adorable perky pig cookies make me want to go "wee wee wee" all the way home... to make some of my own. ;)