Hawaii's seasonal changes are subtle but very recognizable to its inhabitants. Winter is the season of the year that the roadsides are adorned with fields of red Poinsettias, our beloved Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are capped with a blanket of white snow and the surf goes wild; splashing huge waves upon the lava rock shores.
Winter also provides a fun time to try some snowboarding on Mauna Kea's summit or ride the big waves on your surfboard. However, for those of us less enthusiastic about venturing out in extreme conditions, cookie baking is an excellent alternative!
I love to snuggle in on a cold winter's day and bake several dozen cookies to give away to friends and family. It rained all day yesterday, a rare treat in sunny Kona. I took advantage of the weather to stay home and bake Honey Gingerbread cookies.
Here's a simple recipe that I adapted slightly from Martha Stewart. Honey makes an excellent ingredient in baked goods as it retains moisture and helps preserve the product too…not to mention being a healthier alternative to processed white sugar.
- 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and parchment
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of black pepper
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Macadamia Blossom honey
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
- Icing of choice for piping and candy decorations
- Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl.
- Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then honey and molasses. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture until well combined.
- Divide dough into thirds, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Working with a third of dough at a time, roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment.
- Transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. (If sheets are too big, simply cut them and layer them between sheets of parchment in freezer).
- Cut into shapes with cookie cutters, rerolling scraps as needed.
- Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Bake until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes, rotating once and firmly rapping baking sheet halfway through baking to flatten any bubbles in cookies. Let cookies cool completely on baking sheets set on wire racks.
- Place icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (Ateco #0, 1, or 2). Pipe outlines and details on cookies. Immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar, and tap off excess.
- Let set completely uncovered, at room temperature, at least 4 hours (ideally) or overnight.
As New Year's Eve is soon upon us, I also wanted to share with you a delightful cocktail recipe using Organic Wilelaiki Blossom Honey and fresh winter lemons:
The Bee's Knees
- 2 oz. of your favorite good quality Gin
- 1 oz. Wilelaiki honey syrup (equal parts of honey and water)
- 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
Shake over ice, strain and serve straight up in a martini glass. Garnish with honeycomb or a sliver of fresh lemon peel.