On Gingerbread

Last year I bought a gingerbread house kit (a product of Canada) from Costco. It was from the same line of kits that my mother had gotten that year for decorate your own Easter Egg cookies, and we had some fun putting it together. It was frustrating to decorate and not that tasty after sitting around for a while, but it had the potential to be something awesome.

Key word? Potential. Ours looked like this:

(Boy Not Included)

(boy not included)

So it was more of a demoralizing experience than a scary one, and when I saw the gingerbread man kit at CVS on Saturday I grabbed it. How bad could it be for $4? The package said it contained mix, frosting, candy eyes, watercolor icing paint, paint brushes and a cookie cutter. (Ours was not the fruity gum drop version linked to above, but it was a dollar cheaper than the suggested retail price, so it was probably last year’s kit.)

Fella was super-excited about opening the kit and making the cookies, and he handled the box a few times. At one point yesterday I saw him with the paint brushes and the watercolor sheet, and lo and behold an open box. The bottom flap was open. I put all the parts back in. When we finally got down and dirty and started to make the cookies, however, there was no teddy bear cookie cutter as promised. A couple of things could have happened:

1. Fella opened the box and lost it.

2. The box was from a faulty shipment and never had a cookie cutter.

3. The bottom of the box had been opened in the store by someone who took the cookie cutter and I didn’t notice it when I was holding it in the check out line or putting it in the car.

4. The box bottom glue just failed and the cookie cutter fell out at some point on Saturday or Sunday.

Fella says he never had it. He probably didn’t; he mostly tells me where stuff like that goes if he’s the one placing it elsewhere. We had our own cookie cutters, so it doesn’t even matter. We made some bells, stars, a heart, a bird (that lost its head and became a fish), a stocking, a candy cane, and–best and most exciting of all–a giant circle. That circle cutter really got Fella going. I don’t really know why circle cookie cutters are manufactured in the first place, but I inherited it with the lot, along with many of my other baking things that were deemed unacceptable a long time ago when my mother reorganized a kitchen. Our definitions of what is too crappy to use are very different, and when she gives me her crap we both feel like we win.

This gingerbread mix was Fella’s first bout of cookie making. I don’t know how exciting it was to cut open a bag of dry ingredients and dump it into a bowl, but measuring the honey and the milk was pretty exciting, and he liked stirring what he could inside the bowl. This was a very strange batter. I don’t even really want to call it batter, or dough even. It was the consistency of dried Play-Doh and it was kinda hard to use. I am amazed–amazed, I say–that it held together well enough for cutting out shapes and lifting them to the cookie sheet. I guess I didn’t roll the dough out thin enough, either, because these cookies did not bake in 7 to 9 minutes. I would normally blame my oven for that, but these took 18 to 20 minutes. Not a big deal, but a lot of watching. Still, a good excuse to hover around the oven on a chilly evening when I am forbidden to heat the house higher than 72 degrees.

(Little does Husband know how I defy him while he’s at work! But it’s raining today, and it has been raining all day, and the afternoon sun that normally sort of heats the front of the house was blocked from view. I had no other choice.)

The frosting on these cookies was much easier to work with than the frosting on the house last year. And the watercolor frosting paint worked great! It was really bright, and the brush carried the color very well. There was plenty of paint and frosting, although the frosting had a strange taste when you ate it straight. Tastes fine on the cookie, but too much artificial vanilla off the finger. I am also really impressed with the texture and the flavor of the cookie. They are almost soft and they are definitely missing that allspice flavor that I dislike. It’s definitely made me curious about making my own gingerbread. I looked up some recipes in my Encyclopedia of Cooking and found several recipes for gingerbread that you bake in a brownie pan. They have recipes for lemon sauce and cream cheese topping that you could use, too. I am quite keen to try these, although I have a boatload of frozen bananas in my freezer that I am sick of storing. I think banana bread will have to take precedence, should I actually get my act together enough to bake anything at all. I’m still shocked that some of my Christmas packages have already been mailed.

Key word being “some.”

And then there were three.

And then there were three.

Yeah, we experimented with non-traditional forms. You know what’s funny? This whole time I’ve been writing Fella has been eating his lunch so he can have the monster cookie. When allowed to choose the monster cookie from the plate, he picked the Christmas ornament. I asked if he wanted the monster cookie, he said yes. I’m thinking he sees the blue dots as eyes and the zig zag as teeth. It’s cracking me up. Filly is not that into the cookie, but I’ve noticed that she’s just not that into baked goods. Candy, yes (yeah, I give candy to the baby; sue me), but not cakes, brownies, or cookies. She did lick the frosting off of her bell before leaving the table. It was the one decorated with sprinkles. Who could blame her?

Not me. Before I threw away the remainder of the weird frosting, I spread the last of it on a spatula and dipped the spatula into the sprinkles tub. Twice. The little colored balls tasted better than the chocolate jimmies. Rainbow nonpareils for the win!

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