Friday, December 17, 2010

HOLIDAY PROJECT #3 - Gingerbread Cookie Tags and Ornaments

And you thought gingerbread cookies were just for eating.  No, they can be a fun decorating element as well as a tasty holiday cookie.

A couple of years ago I decided that I was going to spend less time searching for, hauling, unpacking, decorating the tree, and then repacking all of the Christmas ornaments.  Considering, at one point, I decorated 9 trees, my supply, as you can imagine, is considerable.  But I found the holidays becoming overwhelming and had to ask myself whether time to relax and reflect was more important than making myself crazy creating a stunningly perfect atmosphere, and overwhelmingly, time won.

In order to provide myself with more time, I decided to embrace simplicity and go with a lot of edibles and organics on one of the two trees I continued to set up.  The kitchen-themed dining room tree became the "edible tree" decorated solely with cookies, candies, nuts and popcorn. It made for a fun tree, a real conversation piece, plus when the holiday was over, what hadn't been eaten or carried off was given to the birds or discarded and the only thing needing packing away was the tree.

Spicy Gingerbread Cut-Outs drizzled with white chocolate
In addition to making chocolate chip cookies with holes in the top through which I could thread ribbon and tie them to the tree, I also made gingerbread snowflakes.  I used the largest cooky cutter that I had in order to provide an eye-catching display.  Guests were encouraged to remove one to take with them on their way home.

I made plenty of cookies, too, drizzling them with both white and milk chocolate for inclusion on the ample cookie tray.  Then I took it one step further and free-hand cut out gift tags with the remaining dough, decorated, and personalized them (with the help of my son, Andrew, who made the leaves); these were then used in place of name tags on holiday packages.  I placed each one in a cellophane bag, tied the bag closed with a long length of curling ribbon, then tied that same ribbon onto the package.  Talk about rave reviews!

It was work, but it was fun and a lot of laughs, and it brought smiles to the faces of both young and old making the effort very worthwhile.  There are a lot of recipes for gingerbread cookies, so I encourage you to use your favorite, but if you don't have one of your own, here is a spicy version that you might enjoy.

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter 
1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed 
2 large eggs 
1 cup unsulfured molasses
6 cups sifted all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
4 teaspoons ground ginger 
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper 
1-1/2 teaspoons salt 

Raisins, dragées, and/or red hot candies for decoration (optional)

Royal Icing for decoration (optional)

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and molasses. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each third in plastic wrap. Chill for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer shapes to ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, decorate with raisins, dragées, and/or red hot candies. Refrigerate about 15 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crisp but not dark. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For more holiday cookie recipes, treat yourself to Martha Stewart's cookie book.

Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share (Martha Stewart Living Magazine)

This post is linked to Foodie Friday and Show and Tell Friday, and Metamorphosis Monday.


Hootin Anni said...

I love, LOVE this idea!! The Christmas tags. What a treat...literally and figuratively.

My Show n Tell Link - A Jim Shore Find

Do stop by and say 'hi' if you can find time. Have a great week ahead.

GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart said...

These are PERFECT! Love how you decorated them and the recipe sounds delicious! Thank you for posting!

Elizabeth said...

Love the idea of the edible name tag! Great idea!

I wanted to e-mail you, but couldn't seem to find one. I dedicated part of my Friday Flower post to you today:

Miz Helen said...

Your Gingerbread Cookies and Tags are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your recipe and you have a great week end!

Donnie said...

I love how you decided to downsize and make new traditions. These are just lovely.

Heather said...

Hello! After visiting the blog "Lovely Little Cottage", I came by to say "hello". Your gingerbread cookies and tags are so cute. What a great idea. I bet everyone loves to come to your house!

Anonymous said...

Your cookies look yummy...I dont think they would last long enough to give as a gift around here! I can't wait to try your recipe!