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Cookies, the Christmas version

You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, Christmas is in town

The Christmas countdown has already begun, a lot time ago. It’s this time of the year, a time eternally linked in everyone’s mind with Christmas trees full of ornaments and bright lights, gifts rapped with colorful paper and fancy ribbons, snowflakes and carols, cinnamon and powdered sugar, sweet- smelling desserts and Santa Claus.

But Christmas cookies, that’s a whole nother story. Two words capable to cause you thrill and sweet anticipation. After all, baking is as much a Christmas tradition as stocking and turkey with stuffing. Our inspiration was the Christmas Bakery and we tried to figure out a way to move it into your house kitchen. So, here is a recipe for delicious ginger cookies with Christmas theme sugar paste decoration. Lift up your sleeves, put on your aprons and let’s be kids again.

Ingredients, for the cookies:

500 gr. plain flour

250 gr. butter

110 gr. powdered sugar

110 gr. brown sugar

1/3 cup milk

½ cup soda water

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon, preferably Ceylon

1 tsp ground clove

3 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients, for the sugar paste:

1 kg powdered sugar

2 tbsp gelatin

2 tbsp glucose syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp water

confectioners powder colours

Directions:

For the cookies: First things first, heat the oven to 170-180ºC. Now, take a bowl and wisk together the butter and the two sugars, powdered and brown. Then, add the milk, the eggs, the soda water and keep whisking until light and fluffy. In a second bowl, pour all the solid ingredients – flour, baking powder, spices, baking soda – refine them and then add this mixture into the first bowl. You have to do it slowly with a steady pace. Beat the mixture until just combined. You must create a workable, homogenized dough that doesn’t stick on your hands or the bowl. Divide dough into smaller balls and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough balls*.

*A tip to make your life easier: put the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and then use the rolling pin.

To shape your cookies cut the dough using your Christmas cookie cutters and remove the extra dough. In case you have already used the parchment paper trick just put the one sheet –the one with the cookies- on a baking tray and continue the procedure until there is no more dough. Bake them for about 12’. Cookies must be soft. Put them aside.

For the sugar paste: For the sugar paste you must use the bain-marie technique. Put some water in a pot and on top of it a metallic bowl that fits perfectly. Into the bowl put the water and the gelatin. Stir them gently. Remember, you must use medium heat for this stage. Add in the bowl the glucose syrup and the vanilla extract and keep stirring until it becomes syrup. Remove the bowl and let the syrup cool. On your kitchen counter, or in a baking tray, put the powdered sugar and make a well in the centre. Then pour slowly pour in it the syrup, stirring constantly. Knead until smooth. You can use some extra powdered sugar if the paste becomes too sticky. When it becomes a smooth, homogenized ball in your hands it’s ready.

*Sugar paste tips:

- If you want the entire sugar paste into the same colour just add a few drops of confectioners powder colours into the syrup and mix it well. In case you want to have more than one colour, divide your sugar paste into equal amount of balls and add to each one some drops of the colour you choose. Kneed them well until you have an evenly colored sugar paste ball.

- Remember that sugar paste is a bit tricky to work with. Don’t make the dough too tight, it tends to get stiffer as time goes by. Also, you have to rap the sugar paste with plastic in case you don’t use it immeditly.

-You can always buy some sugar paste and save yourself from the trouble to make it.

To assemble: Sprinkle some powdered sugar on your counter and use a rolling pin to flatten the sugar paste. To shape it you can use almost anything in the kitchen, from cookie cutters to knives, a pair of scissors, glasses, spoons or pizza cutter. Just set your imagination free. Take the cool cookies and glue on them the sugar paste shapes using some melted chocolate.

Merry Christmas cookies.

*Each and every recipe is cooked - for the photo shoot needs - by our fantastic pastry chef, Natasha  Tsouloufidou.