Now, I could just post a recipe and some photos. But short posts aren’t really my thing, have you noticed? So I must include a story as well.
I found the recipe for these soft glazed gingerbread tiles in a local magazine three or four years ago. I didn’t have the necessary printed rolling pin, but I used some cookies stamps to imprint them, and they were wonderful. With an irresistible chewiness, lots of spice from a big dose of black pepper, and a stunning beauty that came from the imprint and the glaze. I knew I’d make them again the following December.
Until the following December came and I couldn’t find the recipe. I realized, with horror, that I had neglected to clip the recipe, and the magazine had been long ago recycled.
I checked the magazine’s online archives. They’d started archiving the month after the recipe appeared. I called the local restaurant which had provided the recipe, and found out when the pastry chef would be there. I drove down to talk to her. The cookies were that good.
Alas, it turned out that the pastry chef had contributed a different recipe to the magazine. She couldn’t remember which other local chefs had contributed, and she didn’t have a copy of the issue. But she thought the chewy gingerbread cookies sounded delicious.
My local paper seemed to have stopped running its “Lost Recipes” Q and A column, which would have been my next option. I couldn’t figure out what else to do, and I resigned my fate to Christmases without chewy gingerbread tiles.
Then early last December, on a whim, I googled a bunch of gingerbread phrases. It was worth a try. And lo and behold, I found it! The right recipe! I believe I whooped with joy at my computer in the kitchen. I believe I whooped so many times that my family asked me to stop having a cow over a cookie recipe. (A response I’m sure they’re all willing to take back, after having tasted the cookies again.)
Turns out the recipe came from a renowned bakery in San Francisco, Tartine, which has been around for a few years. I haven’t made it there yet, but all reports are glowing. I did receive their cookbook for Christmas last year, and it’s lovely. Gorgeous photos that make you want to start baking immediately, and lots of insiders’ tricks that make it a good cookbook for bakers that already own a zillion cookbooks.
Once I was reunited with the recipe, I decided it was time to invest in my own beautiful carved wooden rolling pin. Sur La Table sometimes has them, but they run out in December, so I ordered directly from the company that makes them: House on the Hill. It didn’t arrive in time for Christmas last year, but we made a batch for New Year’s and gobbled them up before starting on our resolutions.
Here’s a link to a blogger who made them with cutters instead of a pin. They’re lovely as well. You definitely want some sort of imprint on the tops, which she did with a butter knife. It’s the collecting of the glaze in the crannies that makes the cookies so pretty. We learned that with an imprinted pin, you have to really press down into the dough, so the imprint lasts through the baking. (The close-up photo at the top of this post is of some of our first cookies, which didn’t have firm imprints. The later ones came out even better.)
Last week Lulu, Mr. T and I made a quadruple batch and cut them into big 3×3 inch squares. We sold them at our local homeschool make-and-take craft fair. They sold out pretty quickly, probably helped by the bowl of sample bites we put out. It really is an irresistible recipe. We made $38 to add to our Advent Box, to help with the animal we’ll buy from the Heifer Foundation.
Now we have to make another batch this weekend for ourselves and to share. To all those other Christmas cookie recipes out there: Put up your dukes!