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Gingerbread Birdhouse Ornaments

1 recipe Basic Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water)
Square cookie cutter
Heart cookie cutter
Tiny round cutter or pastry tip for the "door"
Sprinkles
Cinnamon sticks, cut thin and into 1/2-inch lengths
Ribbon or gold cord

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spritz 2 cookie trays with nonstick baking spray. Make Basic Gingerbread Cutout Cookie dough according to recipe directions.

Cut 4 squares from the dough and space them well apart on a cookie sheet. Brush the top half of the square with egg wash.

Cut 4 hearts from the dough. Brush the round parts with egg wash, turn the dough over and place hearts upside down on the top part of the base to form a peaked roof.

Poke a 1/2-inch hole in the house, just below the roof, with a tiny round cutter or the end of a pastry tip to make a "door."

Using a metal skewer or toothpick, poke a hole at the top of the roof for the string and poke a second hole under the "door" for a perch. The perch will be inserted after the cookies are baked.

Bake the cookies for 9 to 10 minutes until they are firm and no indentation remains when touched.

While the cookies are still on the tray and the dough is warm and soft, re-poke the hole in the roof and re-poke the hole for the perch.

Immediately insert a short length of a cinnamon stick into the perch hole.

Now the cookies may be transferred to a tray to cool.

Frost the roof with Royal Frosting and decorate with sprinkles.

When ready to hang, string a ribbon or gold cord through the top. Makes about 24 birdhouses.

Ornamental Frosting
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients together. Cover bowl with a damp cloth until ready to use. If you don't have a pastry bag and decorative tips, place the frosting in a zip-lock plastic bag and take a tiny snip off a corner. Use to pipe outlines and decorations as you would a pastry bag.

Basic Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Gingerbread boys and girls are fun to hang on the Christmas tree. But so are pigs, birds, horsies, bones, boats and any shape a cutter can make. This is a good traditional recipe to keep on file.

3 cups flour, plus flour for dusting
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 egg
2/3 cup molasses, light or dark
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
Ornamental frosting to decorate

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, mix the egg with molasses, brown sugar and melted butter. Blend the flour mixture into the egg mixture until all patches of white disappear.

To make rolling a snap, you have to part with the tradition of rolling out dough on a floured board.

Do this instead. Clear a flat space in the refrigerator. Get out a roll of wax paper. Take a handful of dough and place it between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Not too thick. Repeat until all dough is rolled between sheets. Stack the sheets in the refrigerator.

When ready to bake, remove one sheet of dough at a time. Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper. Using the palm of your hand, lightly pat the surface of the dough with flour. Replace the waxed paper loosely. Now flip over the sheet onto the work surface, peel off the second sheet of wax paper and discard it. Dust the dough with flour and proceed to cut shapes with floured cookie cutters.

Place on cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees F about 10 to 12 minutes. Combine the scraps and re-roll between wax paper.

Makes about 4 dozen, depending on size.

 


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