Featured on the cover of the December 2011 Downhome magazine are my saltbox house cookies. Many hours and days of planning, design and decorating went into the 14 houses. Below is the recipe and directions as taken from the December issue so you can make your very own. Enjoy!

SaltBox Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1/2  cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg. Combine all the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour. Flour a sheet of wax paper. Roll out dough to 1/8" thick on the wax paper. Flour the rolling pin frequently, as well as the paper, so the dough does not stick to either. Place stencils onto rolled-out cookie dough. Using a sharp knife or cake spreader, cut out cookies by cutting close to the edge of the template. Carefully remove each cookie and place on cookie sheet. This may take a little practice as the cookies are quite large and may become soft when rolled out. (I used a large spatula.) Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until they start to lightly brown on the edges. Remove promptly to wire racks and let cookies cool at least 24 hours.

Royal Icing

  • 4 cups icing sugar      
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • 5-6 tbsp warm water

Mix all ingredients for icing in a grease-free bowl. If using a stand mixer, set it to medium and let it mix for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl promptly with a wet cloth, as the icing will dry out if left uncovered.

The Decorating

Begin by outlining the entire house with royal icing. The icing can be tinted to match the colour of the house you are making (e.g. I made my houses red, green, yellow and blue, so I tinted my icing in small batches). Trace the windows and doors in white. Allow to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Next, add water to royal icing to get the consistency of pourable (but not runny) icing, and flood the cookies with the rich colours. Spread to all corners using a small spreader or butter knife, careful not to touch the outlines as they may break. This step needs at least an hour or two to dry completely. (Remember to always keep icing covered between uses.)

Use pourable icing to colour doors, and fill in windows with icing tinted black. (I used an icing bag and a #3 writing tip so icing would flow into the small spaces.) Spread to corners of windows using a toothpick before icing dries. Add black doorknobs to doors.

 

Using a basketweave icing tip, re-outline the edges of the houses to create trim; add trim around windows and doors where space allows.

Now you may add fun, festive adornments to your houses, such as coloured Christmas lights around the house, door and windows. Perhaps add a Christmas tree, wreath or snowman – the possibilities are endless! (When using sprinkles to add that special touch, place quickly, before the icing dries.) 

Finish off your saltbox gingerbread cookies by adding full-strength (not pourable) untinted royal icing to the eaves, the bottoms of the windows and around the doors to look like freshly fallen snow. I added some sparkling white sprinkles to give the “snow” that special, frosty twinkle. Finally, sit back and admire (or eat!) your outport winter scene. 

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Mom, wife, baker, cook and lover of every cookie cutter and kitchen gadget there is, that's me!