Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Cleo Coyle's Iced Gingerbread Cookie Sticks (Edible Coffee Stirrers for #Christmas)

From Cleo Coyle: Gingerbread cookies are a classic Christmas treat, and I've made several versions over the years. Today I'm sharing one of my favorites (and Marc's too). I'm also sharing a quick and easy holiday decorating tip. Scroll down to the end of the recipe for that. 

But first, let's bake some 
Christmas cookies!









Cleo Coyle writes two
bestselling mystery
 series with her husband.
To learn more, click here.

☕ A Note from Cleo

These Iced Gingerbread Cookie Sticks are deliciously different. A clever addition to holiday parties yet comfortingly cozy for an evening in front of your virtual fireplace. (Click the link to see one of our favorites on YouTube.)

Marc and I love these cookies so much, we wrote them into our 14th Coffeehouse Mystery, Once Upon a Grind. If you haven't read it yet, it's also one of our favorites. 

The book opens on a beautiful autumn morning in New York's Central Park where the city's first annual Fairy Tale Fall Festival is about to begin—and our first crime scene will be discovered by our intrepid amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager and master roaster Clare Cosi....


Before finding a body in the oldest (and spookiest) section of Central Park's woods, Clare leads her merry band of baristas in giving their shop's coffee truck a "Jack-in-the-Beanstalk" makeover for the Fairy Tale festivities. They also serve these "beanstalk" cookie sticks, a huge hit with the crowd. Unfortunately for Clare, her coffee hunter ex-husband Matt brings his own "magic beans"coffee beans sourced from a legendary and very real area of Africa. And they bring Giant trouble. 

These cookies, on the other hand, are designed to bring joy. Drizzle them with melted white chocolate or make your own vanilla glaze (recipe included). A final sprinkling of white (coarse) sparkling sugar will create a treat as pretty as a winter snowfall. 
May you bake them with love and eat with holiday joy!

~ Cleo



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Cleo Coyle's 
Iced Gingerbread Cookie Sticks

 Elegant, Edible Coffee Stirrers for Holiday Trays 

Makes about 4-5 dozen cookie sticks, depending on size

For cookies:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (or 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves)
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature*
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup molasses (unsulphured, not blackstrap)
1/3 whole milk (or brewed coffee)*

To finish:

Vanilla Glaze (see recipe below) and
Coarse finishing sugar (about 1/4 cup)


*Note: To make this recipe dairy free replace butter with non-dairy margarine and the whole milk with coffee or almond milk.

Step 1— Assemble the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice (or cloves). Set aside.




Step 2—Make the dough. Using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter and dark brown sugar; add the molasses and milk (or coffee) and blend again. While continuing to beat at a low speed, slowly add in your dry ingredients, blending to make a smooth dough. Do not overbeat, but be sure all of the flour mixture is incorporated. 


CLEO TIP #1: The dough should be sticky and in the next step you will chill it to harden up the butter, but you may need to adjust the dough slightly, depending on your climate. If your dough seems very wet, beat in a bit more flour. But don't overdo it because too much flour will toughen up your cookie.




Step 3—Wrap and chill. Form the sticky dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap the two disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; overnight is fine, too. (If you’re in a hurry, place the dough discs in the freezer for 20 minutes instead.) The chilling will harden up the butter and make the dough easier to work with for the next step.

Step 4—Roll the dough. First, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chilled dough disks from the fridge and (if too hard) allow to warm just enough to become pliable. Place the dough between two sheets of lightly flour-dusted parchment paper. (This is a great method for rolling cookies because you will only need the lightest dusting of flour, which will keep the cookies from toughening up.) 




Roll your dough thin, about the 
thickness of a pie crust, around 1/8 inch. 


CLEO TIP #2: If the dough becomes too warm as you roll it, and it sticks too much to the parchment paper, simply slip the whole thing onto a flat pan and place the pan in the fridge for 20 minutes or freezer for 15. Once the rolled-out dough is chilled, it will firm up and easily separate from the paper.


Step 5—Cut the cookies. Remove the top layer of parchment paper. Use a pizza cutter to clean up the edges of your rectangle and slice into sticks. Do not move the sticks off the bottom parchment layer. Simply slip the entire sheet of parchment onto a cookie sheet. 





Step 6—Bake. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. When the cookies are finished baking, you will need to recut them and you must do this while the cookies are still warm. 




Gently slide the entire sheet of parchment paper onto a cutting board or a sturdy counter surface and use your original slicing lines as a guide. The pizza cutter will make quick work of it, roll from the top down, as you see in my photo below, so you can easily follow your lines. 




Step 7COOL: You must allow the cookie sticks to cool completely before handling. If you try to move them while they are warm, they are very likely to crack and break (ask me how I know).

Step 8—Drizzle with glaze. Once cool, you can make the glaze (recipe below) or melt white chocolate and drizzle it on the sticks. Finish with a sprinkling of coarse sugar. 







Cleo's Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients:


2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon milk or cream (or almond milk)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for a whiter glaze, use clear vanilla)

Directions: In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add milk and whisk in the powdered sugar, a little at a time. When all the sugar is melted into the butter and milk, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. 




TEST ON A PLATE: Before drizzling on your cookie sticks, use a fork and drizzle a bit on a plate. If you’re having trouble drizzling it nicely, then it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more milk. If the glaze doesn’t harden fairly quickly after cooling, then it’s too thin. Add a bit more powdered sugar and continue to cook it down until it’s thick enough. 



FINAL TIP: If the glaze hardens in the pan or becomes crusty, whisk it over heat and add a bit more milk, and you will be able to return it to drizzling consistency again, and...eat with holiday joy!








Easy Decorating Tip


A little reminder of a common way you can make your tables appear more festive and romantic during the holiday season. (Do you do this, too?) Find pretty glassware, making sure it's thick, sturdy glass. Fill or partially fill the containers with water and float tea candles in them. 

We use plain and scented tea candles: apple-cinnamon, berry, pine, and French vanilla are all beautiful aromas for the holidays. Marc and I always have fun searching thrift stores for retro glassware of all shapes and sizes.



May your own holidays be bright! 



New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries



This is me -- Cleo (Alice) 
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