Merry Christmas Mustache Fail (Or, Gingerbread Cookies)

Last week I swapped my way to a set of mustache shaped cookie cutters during my office holiday yankee swap. The person who I stole them from didn’t seem to mind one bit, which made me realize these epic cookie cutters were clearly meant for me. I couldn’t wait to try them out!

I dug up an old gingerbread recipe from Cooks Illustrated and went to work. I made the dough in a food processor as instructed, but it was really soft so I left it to firm up in the fridge. Eager to get going on my fabulous mustache creations the following morning, I muscled half of the refrigerated dough into a flat round between two sheets of parchment paper. So far so good.

When I peeled back the top sheet of the parchment paper it was as if I was trying to separate the dough in two. Half of the dough was on the top sheet of parchment and the other half was on the bottom sheet of parchment. Of course- I quickly concluded- the dough was just too soft from all the rolling I had to do to get it flat. I started over with the second half of the dough, which I placed into the freezer after rolling. After 20 minutes in the freezer, the paper peeled off clean, but once I cut out a mustache it refused to free itself from the bottom piece of parchment paper. I had problems…

… but it wasn’t the end of the world. I stood there for a moment up to my elbows in sticky brown dough and decided to scrap it. It was time to make drop cookies!

With the help of my roommate (Thanks Hillary!), and some punchy tunes from Ra Ra Riot, we moved onto Gingerbread Cookies: Plan B.

Here’s “Too Dramatic,” a fun track from their newest album, and a fitting one because it’s easy to be too dramatic when everything seems to be going wrong in front of you! (cheesy choice, I know. Deal with it)

We spent the next 10 minutes scraping the super-sticky dough off the parchment paper and back into the bowl it started in. I had spent enough time covered in dough that I was done touching it, so I used a cookie scoop to drop cookies onto the cookie sheet instead of making the balls by hand. So much for the ‘stache.

Mustache Mission Abandoned, Onto Drop Cookies!

In the end, the cookies turned out great- they were chewy, symmetrical, and delicious. But please note, if you want a gingerbread cookie recipe that is easy to use with cookie cutters: this one isn’t it.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
From Cooks Illustrated, 1999

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon table salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
¾ cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons milk

In food processor fitted with steel blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds. Alternatively, in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

Choose your own ending:

Ending 1: Drop Cookies

Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a small sorbet scoop or melon baller, scoop dough into balls and place about 2 ½ inches apart on the cookie sheets.

Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack; cool to room temperature.

Ending 2: Cut out cookies into shapes (This is where the “mustache fail” part came in for me, but if it works for you, please tell me in the comments!)

Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/4-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-lined cookie sheets with wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4 inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to bottom halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack; cool to room temperature. (And then celebrate!)

4 comments

  1. BRENDA OLIVER

    Hey,
    I am sitting here in Whistler with your lovely parents. Your dad just shared your BLOG with me…what FUN. The only thing missing besides you are these cookies!!!
    I am going to make them as soon as I get home!
    Happy New Year to you!! Sorry we missed you!
    Hugs!!
    Brenda

  2. linzertortes

    Thanks Brenda! Wish I was up there with you guys as well.

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