Merry. Jolly. Happy. Gingerbread.

Merry.  Jolly.  Happy.
(makes about 30 letter cookies and 2 large snowflakes)
For the cookies:

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup organic barley malt syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (peel a nub of fresh ginger and use a microplaner to grate)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest


•Preheat oven to 350º
•In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, salt, nutmeg and chives.  Set aside.
•In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and barley malt syrup until light and fluffy.
•Add egg, continue to beat until completely incorporated.  Add vanilla.
•Slowly add dry ingredients, fresh ginger and orange zest.  Mix until just combined.
•Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Cover and chill for 20 minutes.
•Roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick.  Stamp out letters and place on a parchment lined sheetpan.
•Place sheetpan with letters in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Bake for 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown around the edges.
•While the cookies are still hot, poke a hole into the tops of the letters with a skewer, large enough that a string can fit through.  Allow to cool completely.

For the royal icing:


1 egg white
confectioners sugar


•In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment (*see note*), add egg white and 1 cup of confectioners sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Raise the paddle head to check the consistency of the icing.  If it drips from the paddle, slowly add more confectioners sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the icing is thick, smooth and doesn't drip from the paddle.

•Immediately transfer the icing to a pastry bag fit with a small open tip.  Decorate letters as you see fit.  Allow the icing to crust over and harden completely before hanging.

*NOTE:  Do use a mixer and paddle attachment.  This insures that the icing is totally smooth and any clumps of confectioner's sugar are eradicated.  Otherwise, as you're piping, the opening of the pastry tip with get clogged.  That's a major pain.*

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