When Good Gingerbread Goes Bad

December 17, 2011

Well, actually that title isn’t quite right, as it implies that the gingerbread was, at one time, good. Let’s just say that the idea was good, and things went downhill from there. While I considered letting this whole episode pass unchronicled, it was pretty amusing, and did have a happy (and tasty) ending.

It being the holiday season, I decided it would be fun to make some gingerbread cookies. We didn’t really have any good cookie cutters, so I found some cool ones at the new Sur la Table in Boulder – a snowflake, an evergreen, a gingerbread man, and a bear (polar, I decided). And in keeping with my low-fat at home tenet, I searched for a low-fat recipe online. I found a couple and decided on one that used a smaller amount of butter than most recipes, as well as applesauce to help keep them moist. And then I made what turned out to be at least one too many of my own substitutions. It’s possible that the cookies could have weathered the white whole wheat flour, and still been pretty acceptable. But the light butter, (which I am starting to feel worse about the more I see how bizarrely it behaves), was an incredibly bad idea. In terms of low-fat cooking, it turns out that using less olive oil in a savory dish is a heck of a lot more successful than substituting light butter for regular butter in a cookie recipe. My first hint that things were going awry was the fact that I couldn’t cream the ‘butter’ and sugar together. The ‘butter’ wouldn’t smooth out. There were little tiny beads of whatever still hanging out in the sugar, even after something like 10 minutes of mixing. At this point, I strongly considered dumping it and pulling out the margarine. But I decided to just see what would happen if I added the flour – I thought maybe it would blend together and possibly be okay. So I added the spices, and the flour and baking soda, and proceeded.

Once I had it all blended, it smelled like gingerbread dough. And it looked like gingerbread dough. I hadn’t made gingerbread cookies since I was a kid, so I really wasn’t too sure if it had exactly the right texture, but I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day when I started to roll the dough out, it seemed a little overly sticky, so I ended up adding a bit more flour, but was able to cut some nice looking cookies out once I started using the technique of peeling the rest of the dough away from the cookie cutter before lifting it up.

The Peel-Back Method of Cookie Cutting

The Peel-Back Method of Cookie Cutting (now with Blurring AND Glare for your viewing pleasure)

I manged to get 50 cookies out of the dough. At this point, they looked like gingerbread cookies, they baked like gingerbread cookies, and they smelled like gingerbread cookies. They took a little longer than the recipe called for, but I’m pretty used to that at high altitude. So I let them cool, and then tried one. Nice! They actually taste like gingerbread cook…wait a minute. Why am I so thirsty? Wow, I’m thirsty. Parched, in fact. (Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it’s a lot more fun to tell that way). So…I now had 50 fairly dry gingerbread cookies. Grand.

Four of my 50 Desiccant-Quality Gingerbread Cookies

Four of my 50 Desiccant-Quality Gingerbread Cookies

Then came the obvious answer. Frozen yogurt or ice cream would solve the entire problem! So I got some fat-free ice cream (well, I can’t undo the fat savings at this point!), broke a couple of cookies into tiny pieces, and combined it. And we have a winner!

Broken Bits of Gingerbread Cookie with Fat Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Broken Bits of Gingerbread Cookie with Fat Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Next time I think I’ll just cave and use full fat butter with the applesauce in the low-fat recipe. But at least now I can enjoy these for the time being!

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