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chocolate stout gingerbread cookies (yeah, you heard me)

February 4, 2011

My roommate recently said to me how cool she thinks it is that I have such a reputation among various law students at our school for baking – to the extent that one of her friends asked her if she thought there’d be baked goods around if they studied at our apartment . . . Which would ordinarily be likely, but this week I made a batch of cookies that gave me a lot of trouble, so I didn’t have the leftovers I was expecting. Or more precisely, the leftovers wound up in non-cookie form and in the trash, which really upset my waste-not-want-not sensibilities.

But this is not a story about those frustrating cookies.  This is a story about other cookies, which I made for Christmas Eve with the beloved carnivore’s family.  When my roommate commented on my reputation for being a baked goods fiend, I told her that through baked goods I’d managed to ensure that more fellow students think of me as a happy, nurturing, baked goods person rather than the irritable Connecticut-living-hater that I am.  I’m starting to think this may apply in other areas of my life – like maybe if I bring gingerbread cookies to the beloved carnivore’s family, they won’t notice that I’m a little too sassy sometimes . . .

But of course, I would never feed his family chocolate stout gingerbread cookies because I try not to bake too many “Yes, I’m Catholic and I can’t stop cooking with booze” things for them.  Instead, I made a batch of Em’s mom’s gingerbread cookies.  I cannot recommend her recipe enough – so delicious.

While I was making those, I whipped up a second batch and experimented, using some of the extra stout and Ghirardelli cocoa I had leftover from making our anniversary cake.  I’m not going to say the experiment was successful, I’m just going to say that the beloved carnivore said, “Mmmm.  You can really taste the stout.”  He said that before I iced the cookies – he who when I asked him to try the cookies first responded, “No toppings?  I like toppings.”

Of course, I gave in and made some toppings. . .   Although these photographs come from the second time I made these cookies, when I was headed to a State of the Union party.  I didn’t have donkey or elephant cookie cutters, so I pulled out the farm animals cookie cutters I got in my Christmas stocking and figured “Eh, close enough.  Animal Farm was all about politics, right?”

Ordinarily, when you make something chocolate-y, you swap some flour for some cocoa.  But since stout replaces some of the molasses in this recipe, and molasses is slightly closer to a solid than stout, I just added cocoa to the gingerbread recipe.  I was pretty happy with the results – but if you want it to be more chocolate-y than stout-y, swap a 1/2 cup of flour for 1/2 cup more of cocoa.  These are gentle in their chocolate flavor, though its other flavors pack a wallop.

The measurements for the stout and molasses are inexact, because most measuring cups don’t give you all the information you need.  You want 3/4 cup total of the stout and molasses.  What I did was measure the molasses into my liquid measuring cup, getting a smidge more than 1/3 cup of molasses in there.  Then pour in your stout until the total liquid hits the 3/4 mark.  This is not an exact science, but make sure you have more molasses than stout.

Chocolate Stout Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted slightly from Cooking Capers

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • slightly more than 1/3 cup molasses (see note above)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate stout (see note above)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 6 TBSP Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 TBSP instant coffee (optional)

Cream together the shortening and brown sugar.   Add the stout, molasses, and egg, and blend until smooth (ish – it won’t be perfect).  In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients (including all the seasonings, the cocoa, and the instant coffee, if using), and then add them to the liquid-y goo.  Blend until smooth-ish.   At this point, you’re going to be like, “Amanda, seriously, stop messing with me.  This is not cookie dough.”  Actually, it is.  It only looks like chocolate mousse.

However, you can’t roll this out and make cookies just yet.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and either put it in the freezer for half an hour or refrigerate for a couple of hours.  Em’s mom refrigerates her non-boozy gingerbread dough overnight, and she’s the expert, so you can do it her way (I’m just too impatient).

Preheat the oven to 375.

Pull the chilled dough out and place on a very well-floured surface – you’ll need to reflour the surface a few times over the course of all the cookie-making, because this recipe makes a lot of cookies.

Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it’s very, very thin, approximately 1/8 inch thin, also known as “as thin as you possibly can.”  This time, of course the only time I took decent pictures, I did not roll them as thin as I should have.  Again with the impatience.  They were still tasty, but not as crisp as they could be.  So if you think it’s thin enough, you’re wrong – keep rolling.

NOT THIN ENOUGH!

Dip your cookie cutters in the flour and then cut out a bunch of cookies.   Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until they’re, y’know, cooked all the way through (they won’t “brown” like sugar cookies because they are already brown – if anything, they get lighter).  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before icing them, should you choose to ice them.

Note: It helps to put the dough back in the freezer in between batches of cookies.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Icing

Makes just about enough for one batch of cookies you can up all amounts by 50% to make more than enough, if you’re worried or if you’re really good at rolling very thin cookies

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon (to taste – yes, dip your finger in and taste!)
  • 2-4 TBSP milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl or liquid measuring cup.  Add the milk a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork very well after each addition.  You want it to be a bit liquid-y, like an icing, rather than thick, like a frosting, but you don’t want it to be so thin that it’ll spill all over everywhere.

Once the cookies are fully cooled, you  can ice them.  Take a small table spoon (the size you’d give a little kid if they came over to dinner, in which case chocolate stout cookies are not a great idea, probably).   Dip the spoon in the icing, get the spoon mostly full of the icing, and pour it gently into the center of the cookie.  Using the edge of your spoon, push the icing around to fill the cookie’s surface with icing.  Let dry – it will solidify substantially after drying and will turn whiter.  In the picture below, the cookie on the left has dried completely, and the cookie on the right has just been iced.  I know, before is supposed to be on the left and after on the right, but this isn’t a diet commercial, it’s a food blog.  Get over it.*

*that’s the guilt talking.

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