When the gingerbread cookies in the movie Krampus terrorized little Max and his family, I thought to myself, “How do I capture that mischievous, spicy essence of a holiday cookie without creating something that’s actually evil?” It occurred to me that I could just try to cram as much spicy ginger flavor into a cookie as possible, but I’d have to be careful. I’d have to walk the line between holiday delight and unholy, terror-filled night. So, I stared straight into the cold, hard, white-dotted eyes of a scantily clad dough figure and came out the other side alive—with just a hint of spicy ginger on my breath.
So many gingerbread cookie recipes promise a spice-filled journey that culminates in the ability to fly above the clouds on a starry, moon-filled night, but I’ve been incredibly underwhelmed by the resulting cookies. I bite into them, close my eyes, and wake up in the kitchen with a paste of flour and sugar stuck to the roof of my mouth—crawling around on my hands and knees looking for a bottle of hot sauce. I don’t want this kind of cookie. I want the cookie that will try to shoot me with a staple gun but misses and then I bite off its head, and we have a good laugh because it’s just spicy—and not evil at all. That’s the kind of Christmas joy I want to bring my family and the world from now on. And, I think I kind of sort of achieved it—with a combination of ground ginger and fresh ginger. Here’s the recipe:
½ cup of packed brown sugar
5 1/3 tablespoons of shortening
¾ of a cup of molasses
1/3 of a cup of cold water
1 ½ tablespoons of finely chopped fresh ginger
3 ½ cups of flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon of ground ginger
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of allspice
½ teaspoon cloves
Combine the sugar, shortening, molasses, cold water, and fresh ginger in a bowl.
In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
Mix them together and refrigerate overnight.
Roll out the dough and cut it into desired shapes. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Decorate as desired.
Results: These cookies are just as much fun to decorate as they are to eat. Here is Alex’s version of a skeleton gingerbread cookie:
And. . . just for fun. . . here’s a holiday drawing from Alex as well. (I think my stories and blog posts may be influencing his art. A mom can only hope, right?)
Nate, Alex, and I agree that the cookies are spicy—at the end. You kind of get tricked into thinking that you’ve eaten a “normal” cookie with an appealing spice blend and then . . . Boom! That ginger comes out of nowhere and whisks you off to a star-lit sky, where charming little dough-people dance and swing axes. You duck. They miss. Every time—‘cause they’re just spicy and not at all evil.
In Other News: Need another laugh? Check out this creative non-fiction piece of mine that was printed in a really cool comedy literary magazine, Riot Act Magazine. It’s called, “When your Child Brings Home a Wig from the Arts Supplies Closet at School.” Cheers!
Your Turn: What is a recipe you’ve tweaked over the years?