Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Challenge recipe 11: NINJAbread men

Yes, you read that right. Ninjabread men. My lovely high school bestie Cas got me these for my birthday:
How FREAKING AMAZEBALLS are they?????? Oh, and the "Lady Catherine's" tape Cas added
 is in reference to  Lady Catherine de Burgh in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

So I thought it would be a prime opportunity to christen Stephanie Alexander with a batch of gingerbread. I've never actually made gingerbread before, only gingerbread cake. So it was a double first! Triple first, if you include making and using royal icing.

Anyway, here's the book:

And here's what you'll need:

According to the recipe, you start by putting 85g of softened unsalted butter into the bowl of your posh mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Or, if you're me, you put 85g of softened unsalted butter in a mixing bowl and get out your $30 electric beater from Target. (One day, Cobalt Blue Kitchenaid. One day, you will be mine. MIIIIIIIINE, I TELLS YA!!!!! *shakes fist*) Ahem.

Here's 85g of softened unsalted butter:

Add to that 90g of brown sugar. And because I love you all, I put the brown sugar into a cup measure so you don't have to weigh out 90g. Because that's just stupid. Anyway, it's about 1/3 cup of brown sugar:

Then add 1/4 cup of golden syrup. Mmmm, golden syrup. For my little North Americans, I think you can use treacle as a substitute? But I'm not 100% sure, so you might want to Google that shit before you do.

Cream it all together with your $700 Cobalt Blue Kitchenaid  *sigh* electric beater:
Looks like peanut butter, but tastes SO much better! 
Next, separate an egg:

Stick the white in the fridge - you'll need it later on. Dump the yolk in the bowl:

And it in. When that's done, sift 235g of plain flour into a separate bowl. Again, because I love you, I put it into a measuring cup. It comes out at around 1 1/4 cups:

Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt:

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda:

1 teaspoon of ground ginger:

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon:

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg out of a jar:

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves:

1/4 teaspoon of white pepper (which I think looks something like cigarette ash... Mmmm, tasty!):

And 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice:

Stir it all together with a spoon:

Then gradually mix it in using your $700 Cobalt Blue Kitchenaid on low speed electric beater on whatever the hell speed you like:

Spoon the dough onto a piece of Glad Wrap/cling film/Saran Wrap, and press into a rectangular shape:

Wrap it up, and refrigerate it overnight for like three or four hours. Then take it out of the fridge and let it soften for an hour about 10 minutes. Roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic film until it's about 5mm thick. You will have a rectangle of about 26cm x 30cm circle of random dimensions cos you're shit at using a rolling pin:

Slip the rectangle onto a baking tray and chill for an hour Get out your handy dandy ninja cookie cutters, because this freaking recipe is taking long enough to make as it is. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C, and go crazy with the cookie cutters:

Then put them on a tray lined with baking paper (also, pretend that there's a photo here of the uncooked ninjas on the tray. I completely forgot to take one) and bake for 10-12 minutes. While they're in the oven, put the remaining dough bits into the fridge. Take the ninjabread men off the tray pretty much as soon as they come out of the oven, and stick them on a cooling rack.

Continue to roll out the remaining dough and cut out ninjas until you've got no dough left. Here's some baked ninjas:

Once they're cool, start making the royal icing. It's pretty simple - 1/2 cup of icing sugar:

And the egg white you saved from earlier:

Beat the living shit out of it with your electric beater. Basically, you're making really sugary meringue, so you need it to be pretty stiff.

When it's done, add food colouring if you want. I tried to make it red, but it just turned out pink. Eh. Whatevs. You could use a piping bag, but I've become rather a fan of using zip lock bags with one corner snipped off. Saves on the clean up! #scoreoneforlaziness

Pipe ninja costumes onto your ninjabread men. If you wanted to go all out, you could pipe all the way around the edge in a different colour and then flood the whole thing with icing before doing the decoration in a different colour. But pfff, this recipe had already taken up seven hours of my life!

Allow the icing to set for an hour before putting into storage containers to cart them to work.

The verdict? They were a hell of a lot of work. But let's face it - they look pretty freaking amazing. And they were delicious - quite a bit spicier than normal gingerbread, and not quite as sweet. I'm kind of curious whether the extra refrigeration time adds anything to the dough or if it just makes it easier to work with. Next time I make ninjabread men, I might try another recipe for comparative purposes. Or I might just try the whole flood icing thing to see just how awesome I can get them to look!

Anyway, the final verdict was courtesy of my work peeps. A sure sign of a good recipe? Taking 18 ninjabread men to work and coming home with none, having only eaten one yourself!!

K xx

7 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! I love it! I wish I liked gingerbread better so I didn't feel like I wasted stuff. I can eat about one or two and then I'm done until next Christmas. But these are SO cute! You did a great job!

    Simply Kate

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  2. You could totally use regular sugar cookies instead. I mostly did gingerbread because of the amusing name connotations! ;)

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  3. I love how you iced them. Next you should get and use these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Fred-ABCG-ABC-Cookie-Cutter/dp/B000FPH3X2/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I16HP0LIW30NAU&colid=1ERCL4GRPAQFC

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  4. Wow, your hand-eye cooordination is way better than mine with the icing thing. Good work :) I'm a bit of a spaz with it, and to prove it, I'm sorry but I'm going to insert a gratuitous plug for my blog. I wouldn't normally crash people's blogs like this but I wish to stress that it IS relevant - mine are the Already Been Chewed cutters made by the same company. Maybe your readers can do a better job of icing theirs than I did!!! (not hard to achieve...)

    http://theteensytinyinsignificantdetails.blogspot.com/2011/03/sad-little-emo-gingerbread-men.html

    Also, you **can** exchange golden syrup for treacle, but it'll turn out waaaaaaay darker and more bitter, and almost malty. There are three levels of syrup - golden syrup, tracle and molasses - and I have no idea what the American equivalent is. I have been known to be out of golden syrup, and so exchange it for half treacle, half honey, just to take the edge off. Ditto for running out of treacle - half molasses, half honey. For some reason we never run out of molasses. I think the same tin has been in the cupboard for my entire lifetime...

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  5. I love those cookie cutters! I've never seen anything like that before! I'm totally going to have to find me some! The last gingerbread cookies I made weren't amazing; I'll have to give these a try.

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  6. I love your commentary. I'm gonna follow your directions when I get round to making these. The Ninjas looked amazing! You got some mad decorating skillz!

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  7. I just googled ninjabread men to find a recipe for my new cutters *yay*, and your blog was first on the list. I love, love, luuuurve your writing style. You sound like me, but with an accent. ;) ~ Caro from Canada

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