25 Beers of Christmas: Day Eleven – New Glarus Moon Man & Gingerbread Cookies

All in all...ooh la la mon cherie.

That’s all you need to know. Except that I wish I had many more of these to share with everyone.

If you must know, the New Glarus Moon Man is a delightfully bright pale ale that smells like Christmas trees. And it has sent me over the moon…get it? eh eh? Did I mention I am in love with horrific puns and plays on words? You’ll have to forgive me. (dear word-oriented friends, do you know what the plural of play on words is?)

P.S. This was part of a New Glarus sampler that my father gave me from a trip to Wisconsin. One of the best gifts ever. I squealed.

Recommend to a friend? Yes yes yes!

How much snow are you willing to scrape off your car for this?  (5) Dig through a Minnesota blizzard. I thought it was amazing tonight.

Safe for lightweights? 5% ABV. No excuses! You must try this if you get the chance.

Plus one? I’ll take another please!

Together the pale ale and gingerbread cookies are good, but they don’t necessarily heighten the flavors of the other. I was hoping that maybe some of the hops in the beer might bring out the spices in the gingerbread, but perhaps I would need something with a more prominent hop presence like an IPA. Recommendations, anyone?

In other news…I made these amazing cookies this weekend, and this recipe is permanently being kept in my back pocket to pull out at Christmastime every year. These gingerbread cookies have a perfect amount of spice to them, but not too much so that they have an odd or off-putting flavor, and enough sweetness that they are perfectly wonderful even without icing.

Now I have very little patience in baking, and up until recently, I avoided any recipe that took more than thirty minutes of prep time. But I was missing out on some great recipes. So I’m not going to lie to you and say these are quick and easy. They’re easy, but to make the perfect batch, they need some time and loving.

My schedule for these: Mixed the cookie dough Saturday afternoon, let the dough chill while I ran errands. Then that evening I watched a movie, during which I had a rotation of baking, rolling, chilling, cutting, chilling, baking, etc. Then this morning I did all of my icing. The first time I ever made cut out cookies, it took me a lot of time (and frustration) to figure things out, but I think that providing more details on the process helps cut down on that time a lot.

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen, cut in half
Yields 40 cookies, varying in sizes from two to four inches wide.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon course salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

(1) In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together. In mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until it is smooth and light. Crack egg in a small bowl & separate egg white. (if you’ve never separated an egg watch this tutorial) Add to mixing bowl. Add molasses, mixing on low until fully incorporated and smooth again.

(2) Keep the liquid mixture on low and using a large spoon, add flour a little bit at a time. When flour is mostly incorporated, add another spoonful. Repeat this until the beaters get too chunky, or the mixture starts flaking apart. Stop mixer, scrape beaters, and using a spatula, mix in the rest of the flour until it all stays together in one piece. Mix just until the flour is fully incorporated, or you will overwork the gluten in the flour and your cookies may become tough. Tear off a small piece of plastic wrap and press onto dough for a few seconds. When you remove it, if a lot of dough gets torn off, mix in more flour.

(3) Lay a 10-12 inch piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and put half of the cookie dough down on it. Lay a similar sized piece of parchment paper on top, and lightly press the cookie dough down until it is about 2 inches thick. Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is 1/2 inch thick. Take parchment paper off, lay another piece of saran wrap on top, seal around the sides, and place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Repeat this for the second half of the cookie dough.

(4) After chilled, take one of the discs out of the refrigerator. Remove one piece of plastic wrap and replace with the parchment paper you used. Flip the disc over so that the parchment paper is resting on the counter with the saran wrap on top. Then roll out dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with second disc. Put both back in the refrigerator for another hour. Remove and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and place on greased cookie sheets. With excess cookie dough from cutting out shapes, roll back into a ball and repeat step 3 (you can chill dough for about 15-20 mins).

(5) If the cookie sheet will fit in the refrigerator, preferably you would put the cookie shapes in the oven to chill another ten minutes before baking. This helps them hold their shape instead of spreading out too much. It is not imperative though, and the cookies can be put straight in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes at 350. If you like your cookies chewy, take them out after ten minutes. But all ovens vary, and so I recommend taking them out after ten minutes to see how tough they are.

(6) Frost with Royal Icing. I’ll have a post on my easy recipe soon I pinky promise. Until then I recommend Brown Eyed Baker‘s wonderful tutorial, and using Martha Stewart‘s recipe, but cutting it in half.

The trick I have found for cookie cutter recipes is chill chill chill. Any time you do anything to the dough, chill it! It may seem tedious, but it helps make the dough much easier when cutting, and helps the dough keep its form when baking. For example, if you don’t chill after rolling the dough out, when you go to cut your cookies they stick annoyingly to the parchment paper instead of staying in the cookie cutter so you can transfer them to the baking sheet! Revelation!

  1. Cathy said:

    I’m really enjoying this series! Thanks for the excellent recommendations. Unfortunately, it would be a bit of a hike to get New Glarus around Chicago.

    And I have to ask, will Great Lakes Christmas Ale be on the list?

    • thebakeandbrew said:

      Cathy I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying these! Oh how I would love to have a Great Lakes Christmas, as I’ve heard magical tales about it. Have you been able to have it before?

      But I’m limited by what I can find here in Muncie (the New Glarus was a gift from someone’s road trip to Wisconsin, I actually should have noted that in my post), so I’m hoping that one of our bars will have it, but I know just how high in demand that beer is every Christmas.

    • thebakeandbrew said:

      Aw boo, according to that it’s nowhere in Indiana. I’ll have to get my Chicago relatives to keep their eyes open!

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