Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cut-outs

Today is one of these days:

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That’s right. Snow day!

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The best thing to do on snow days is bake. Obviously. And the best thing to bake when it’s snowing is gingerbread cookies.

I spent the pre-Christmas season in Denmark one year, and learned that the Danes have very similar Christmas cookies called brønkager. The chief differences between brønkager and gingerbread cookies are that brønkager are topped with sliced almonds and baked with a little cardamom in addition to the cinnamon and ginger. Cardamom is a popular spice in many other countries, under-appreciated in the US by comparison. It’s delicious, though (think chai tea: cardamom is one of the primary flavors), so I have taken to adding cardamom to my favorite gingerbread recipe, which is originally from an old Pillsbury holiday cookbook.

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My version of Danish brønkager.

This is a roll-and-cut cookie recipe, so even if you are not going to the trouble of decorating all the cookies, it’s still labor-intensive compared to simple drop cookies. Make sure you have extra flour and a good rolling pin. If you have a rolling pin sock and/or a rolling mat of some sort, they come in handy; you can get by fine without them, though, as long as you are generous with the flour and careful about dough sticking. The dough only takes a few minutes to mix up, but then it needs an hour in the fridge, and cutting the cookies takes another hour or more. As for ingredients, most are typical cookie components. I generally use blackstrap molasses. The whole wheat flour is one of the key ingredients that takes this particular gingerbread recipe up a notch; don’t replace it with all-purpose flour. The cardamom is optional, as discussed above, but it’s worth buying a jar; you can add it to other recipes that use a similar mix of spices (it’s amazing in apple pie, for instance). Just remember to always use it in very small quantities unless you want it to be the dominant flavor; it’s similar to ground cloves in its potency.

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Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cut-outs

Ingredients
1½ C sugar
1 C butter, softened
1/3 C molasses
1 egg
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (bread flour or hard-berry wheat works best, rather than whole wheat pastry flour, which doesn’t have the same texture)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp salt

Directions
1. In large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg; blend well.

2. Stir in baking soda, spices, and salt. Mix in both flours, half a cup or so at a time, until flour is completely incorporated. You may want to mix with your hands if it gets too stiff. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

3. Heat oven to 350°F. On lightly floured board or countertop, roll out about a fourth of the dough to approximately 1/8-inch thickness. Roll thicker for a softer cookie, thinner for a crisper cookie. Refrigerate remaining dough in the meantime. Do not roll dough more than twice for best results.

This is a good dough thickness for an average-to-crispy cookie.

This is a good dough thickness for an average-to-crispy cookie.

4. Cut rolled with cookie cutters (you can use a glass if no cookie cutters are available). Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 6 to 9 minutes.  Bake until “set” for soft cookies (i.e. they appear dry in the middle and edges are firm but not yet darkened), or until lightly brown around the edges for crisper cookies. Cool one minute on the cookie sheet, then remove to cooling racks.

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5. Cool completely before frosting. Make sure you eat at least one while it’s still warm. Try not to eat all of them.

6. Frost with icing, buttercream, melted chocolate–your choice. Allow frosting to set. Store between sheets of waxed paper in loosely covered container.

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One Response to “Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cut-outs

  • Do you press the sliced almonds onto the cookies or just sprinkle them loosely on top?

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