Sherrill's Secret Soft Gingerbread Boys

Sherrill’s Secret Soft Gingerbread Boys

Makes sixteen to eighteen 5-inch cookies

[i]This is cookbook author Nancy Baggett’s re-creation of a popular gingerbread
cookie sold at a former Capitol Hill landmark eatery, Sherrill’s Restaurant and
Bakery. The cookies are fragrant with spice, plump and slightly soft, yet not
cakey. They are finished with a light, sugary icing that is reminiscent of doughnut glaze.

Baker Howard Ward was not willing to part with his original recipe, but several
fans of the Sherrill’s version have told Baggett that hers is very close to the
original. Adapted from her “The All-American Dessert Book” (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).[/i]

Pack the cookies flat, with waxed paper between the layers, in an airtight
container for up to 1 week. They can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2
months.

Sherrill’s Secret Soft Gingerbread Boys

For the cookies:

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
Generous 1/2 cup clover honey
2/3 cup light (mild-flavored) molasses
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 1/3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
Raisins or currants for eyes and buttons

For the glaze:

1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring if lumpy
1 1/2 tablespoons corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
3 1/2 tablespoons water

For the cookies: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the
butter, oil, honey, molasses and brown sugar. Cook, stirring, until the butter
melts and the mixture just comes to a full boil; immediately start timing and
cook for exactly 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer on low speed,
combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking powder, baking soda and
salt. Working carefully to avoid splashes, add the butter-molasses mixture.
Beat on low speed until the ingredients are blended. Increase the speed to
medium, until very well blended; if the mixer motor labors, stop and complete
the mixing by hand. (The dough will seem too soft at this point.) Cover and
refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the dough has stiffened and is barely warm.

Divide the dough into thirds. Roll out the portions a generous 1/4 -inch thick
between sheets of baking parchment or waxed paper. Stack the rolled
portions (paper still attached) on a tray or baking sheet. Refrigerate for at
least 30 to 40 minutes, or freeze for 20 to 25 minutes or until cold and firm.
(The dough may be refrigerated for up to 12 hours, if preferred.)

Prepare for baking: Place a rack in the middle third of the oven and preheat
to 350 degrees. Grease several large baking sheets, or coat with nonstick
spray oil.

Working with 1 dough portion at a time (leaving the remainder chilled), gently
peel away 1 sheet of paper, then lightly pat it back into place. (That will
make it easier to lift cookies from the paper later.) Flip the dough over, then
peel off and discard the second sheet. Using a 4- to 5-inch gingerbread girl
or boy cutter, cut out the cookies. Using a spatula, transfer cookies to
baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. (If at any point the dough
softens too much to handle easily, transfer the paper and cookies to a tray
or baking sheet, and chill until firm again.) Gather up and reroll the dough
scraps between sheets of paper. Continue cutting out cookies until all the
dough is used. Very firmly press raisins into the cookies for eyes and front buttons.

Bake for 9 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are slightly colored on top and
slightly darker at the edges; it’s better to overbake than underbake.
Set aside to firm up about 4 minutes; then, using a wide spatula,
transfer to wire racks set over a sheet of waxed paper. Have all the
cookies lined up and slightly separated before beginning the glaze.

For the glaze: In a medium saucepan, combine the confectioners’ sugar, oil
and water until well blended. Bring to a boil, stirring, over medium-high heat,
for 30 to 45 seconds or just until the mixture is smooth and becomes
translucent. Stir to recombine the glaze, then use immediately while it is still
hot. (If the glaze is allowed to stand and cool, it may thicken and become
sugary. In that case, add a teaspoon of hot water to thin it again, place
over medium heat and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Immediately remove from the heat and use.)

Using a pastry brush or a paper towel dipped in the glaze, brush the cookies
until their tops are coated all over with an even layer, not too thick or too
thin. Stir the glaze frequently to prevent it from separating. Let the glazed
cookies cool completely, at least 1 hour; the glaze may become slightly sugary and flaky.

Per cookie (based on 18 ) : 330 calories, 3 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates,
16 g fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 7 g saturated fat, 106 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Washington Post - December 13, 2006