For some reason, I am addicted to springerle molds. In simpler terms, they are wooden cookie molds. They are more common in Europe (the Dutch windmill being the most popular) and come either as a block of wood or a patterned rolling pin. I went through a phase where I was purchasing them on eBay, but my favorite two come from a street cart I came across in Bruges, Belgium.
When I went to San Francisco with Emma and her husband, Chris, one of the places we visited (on more than one occasion) was Tartine. What a phenomenal bakery. If you're in the Bay Area, do NOT miss it! Thankfully, thy have a cookbook and its pages are filled with the products they sell in the shop. One thing I've been meaning to try is the Soft Gingerbread Cookies. The recipe called for a lot of molasses, and, usually I'm not a fan, however, the generous doses of spices (ginger, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper) helped balance the flavors.
I ALWAYS grind my own spices when possible, and you should, too! I plan on doing a blog dedicated to spices at some point soon, but for now, that is my advice to you.
TARTINE - Soft Glazed Gingerbread
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons water
To make the dough, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Add the egg and mix well. Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer again and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it on a large piece of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.
Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface. If using a plaque with a design, roll out the dough 1/3 inch thick, lightly dust the top with flour, press your cookie molds over the dough, and then cut out the shapes with a small knife and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Alternatively, using the mold as a guide, cut around it with a small knife, flip the mold over so the design is facing you, and place the dough over it, pressing it into the design. Unmold the shapes onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.
If using a patterned rolling pin, lightly dust the lined baking sheet with flour and transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick with a plain pin. Then, using the patterned pin, roll over the dough with enough pressure to ensure a clear impression of the design. Trim the sides with a small knife. It is not necessary to cut into smaller sizes before baking.
Bake the cookies until lightly golden along the sides but still soft to the touch in the centers, 7 to 15 minutes. The timing will depending on the size of the individual cookies, or if you have made a single large patterned piece that will be cut after baking.
While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar and water until smooth.
When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and let cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, while the cookies are still warm, using even strokes, brush a light coat of glaze on the top of each cookie, evenly covering it.
Let the cookies cool completely. When the glaze dries, it should leave a shiny, opaque finish. If you have used a patterned pin to make a single large plaque, cut into the desired sizes with a small, very sharp knife. At the bakery, we cut them into 3-by-4-inch rectangles, but 1 1/2 by 4 inches makes a nice smaller size.