No, you haven't descended into a time-warp. You see, here in the Philippines, we don't have Thanksgiving, so after the whole Halloween-All Saints' Day-All Souls' Day trifecta we can already prepare for Christmas. I think you'll be surprised at the speed with which workers at the mall prepare the giant Christmas trees-- all ready to be gawked at by the morning of November 3. It personally feels a little strange, given the latest onslaught of bad news surrounding me and my friends, but we'll power through. Each year the broken records that are television and radio news boast the Filipinos' knack for being able to celebrate through poverty and inflation, and family members struggling to provide for the family by working overseas. Perhaps the Thanksgiving sentiment of gratitude for one's blessings is combined with our Christmas celebrations (maybe we're thankful that we only have to really prepare two feasts a year-- Christmas and New Year).
But whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it's never a bad time to be with family (some might even say that it's during the bad times that time spent with family and friends is more appreciated). And it's never a bad time to enjoy gingerbread, either. This recipe is my entry (hopefully the first of many) to Susan's Eat Christmas Cookies blog event from now till December 21. There's a running round-up here.
This is the springerle mold I got from Sur La Table when I went to San Francisco-- produced by House on the Hill (an Illinois company), which makes beautiful springerle molds from antique designs, but it was a bit expensive (the price on the springerle rolling pin is insane-- but I can't deny its gorgeousness). You can get springerle rolling pins from Amazon that are even cheaper than single molds at House on the Hill, but I haven't been able to look at the designs up close.
Patricia, I didn't know you made guest appearances! KIDDING!
And now (drumroll)... MEMES! I've led these two memes out into a deserted grassy field and am describing our dreams of owning our own land. The first one is Jeanne's Commenter's Meme.
My last ten commenters are:
1. Greasemonkey of The Cobbler Confederate
2. Susan of Food Blogga (singsong he-ey)
3. Kevin of Closet Cooking
4. Holly of Phe/Mom/Enon
5. Mandy of Fresh from the Oven
6. Pea of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
7. Sunita of Sunita's World
8. Jen of Use Real Butter
9. Zen Chef of Chefs Gone Wild
10. Dr. Em of Pulse
1. What is your favourite post from number 3's blog? There's a LOT (Kev works REALLY hard!), but some of my more recent faves are the Apple Pie Pizza and the Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza.
2. Has number 10 taken any pictures that have moved you? Dr. Em has a photo blog, and I like her picture of the Nihon Teien-- my exact word was "breathtaking."
3. Does number 6 reply to comments on their blog? Yes, though sometimes I get e-mails instead :)
4. Which part of blogland is number 2 from? San Diego! (Surf-)Rock on!
5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7 what would it be? Oh, that's embarrassing! Unsolicited advice, heh :) Er, keep up the good work... And don't feed strange cats. They will slash you.
6. Have you every tried something from number 9's blog? No... I will when I come across a shitload of truffles, though. Kidding! My aspiration has always been the clam risotto, though. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in that blog is beyond decadent.
7. Has number 1 blogged something that inspired you? No, but I don't think he'll take it against me... (Heh)
8. How often do you comment on number 4's blog? Uh, very :)
9. Do you wait for number 8 to post excitedly? Good God yes
10. How did number 5's blog change your life? Well, Mandy's changed my baking life for sure... She's one of the first blogs I discovered and I learned not to be afraid in the kitchen ;)
11. Do you know any of the 10 bloggers in person? No, not even Dr. Em! And I missed a phone call with Jen :(
12. Do any of your 10 bloggers know each other in person? Ah, I don't think so.
13. Out of the 10, which updates more frequently? It's a toss-up between Kevin and Dr. Em ;)
14. Which of the 10 keep you laughing? Pea, Jen, and Holly do turn on the funny a lot-- But Zen-Man does the comedy song and dance to full effect! Dude, the guy makes comic strips.
15. Which of the 10 has made you cry (good or bad tears)? Without a doubt, Jen.
Whew! And now we're, uh, done with that meme, it's time for Kid Diva's simple seven-things meme.
1. Last things I ordered from overseas (via HMV.co.uk)-- Keane: Perfect Symmetry deluxe set and Peep Show DVD boxed set (Series 1-5! w00t!). Sooo horrifically funny.
2. Whuzzat? You want a list of all the sitcoms I've ever seen? Here it is.
3. CD at the top of the stack next to me: More Friends: Music from Final Fantasy.
4. Off to New Jersey at the start of next year for my interviews-- if I pass my Step 2 CS exam (from El Segundo).
5. Got rid of the 3 pounds I gained, but got a little back from all the cookies below. Oh well, as long as I exercise...
6. I used to spend quite a bit of time making Keane signatures for rabid fangirls at the official forum. Here's a link. Some of those Photoshop files have 60 layers!
7. I distinctly remember this moment from elementary school: Every year we had to do a set of physical tests, one of them being the 50-meter sprint. At the end of mine, the gym teacher told me (in loosely translated Tagalog): "What the hell was that?!"
This recipe is again from one of my favorite cookbooks, Tartine. I recently reviewed it over at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf, finally!
Soft Glazed Gingerbread adapted from Tartine
The original recipe says to roll the dough out to 1/3 inch thick and apply only enough pressure with the mold to make a clear impression. However, in doing so I found that I squished the dough to only about 1/4 inch thick. I still baked them for 7 minutes without compromising the softness of the cookie. Also, because it's so warm in the kitchen and I needed a lot of pressure to make a clear print, pressing next to an existing impression distorts the one beside it. For this reason, instead of press-press-press-cut-cut-cut, I had to press-cut-press-cut-press-cut. A little more work but at least the designs emerged as intended. The recipe says this makes 12-20 cookies, but because of the above adjustments, I ended up making 40 delicious cookies-- you can press the dough scraps together and re-roll as needed. You can also check out my previous, and just as good, recipe for gingerbread here-- it's also thick and soft but has no egg (it has milk, though).
In a large mixing bowl, add the butter, then sprinkle the cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, bakind soda, salt, and pepper evenly over it. Beat the mixture until creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the egg and beat until well-combined. Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Sift all the flour over the mixture and stir in with a strong spoon or rubber spatula until well-combined and no traces of flour remain. You could also use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, beating on low speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and no traces of flour remain. Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and press it into a rectangle about an inch thick, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a sheet pan with parchment.
If using a single springerle mold: Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/3 inch thickness, lightly dust the top with flour, and press the mold(s) all over the dough. Cut out the shapes with a small knife and transfer to the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
If using a springerle rolling pin: Lightly dust the lined sheet pan with flour and place the dough on top. Roll into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick with a regular rolling pin, then roll over it again with the patterned pin, applying enough pressure to ensure a clear impression. Trim the sides of the entire slab with a small knife, but there's no need to cut out the individual cookies at this point.
Bake the cookies until lightly golden (er... okay) along the sides but still soft to touch in the center, about 7 minutes for already-cut cookies or 15 minutes if you used a patterned rolling pin and are baking a giant slab of cookies. When done, let the cookies cool in the pan for about 10 minutes (they will set further as they cool). While waiting, prepare the glaze:
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water and whisk until smooth. While the cookies are warm, evenly brush a light coat of glaze on top. If the details are obscured too much, whisk in the remaining tablespoon of water to the glaze and continue. If you've used a patterned pin to make a large slab of cookies, when the glaze has hardened, use a small, very sharp knife to cut it into the individual cookies.