Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend Cooking...A Gingerbread Pentagon

I believe I mentioned that I am away this holiday weekend.
Yes, I know I just came back from Italy, but this time I am closer to home, just a few hours away in Washington D.C. with the Bro, the SIL, the Niece and the Niece's boyfriend.

Seeing the sights..walking and walking..doing a little shopping...eating at a few great places including at Fyre, the restaurant here at the hotel where we had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner and Rosa Mexicana, a favorite. I am sure a few photos will turn up in the future of the monuments, of our tour of the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Air and Space and the Native American museums to name just a few stops.

But Friday started off with a festive holiday touch, the unveiling of a fabulous gingerbread replica of the Pentagon...and I can see the real one from my window.

Take a break from your holiday shopping with The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon-City, as Chef David Collier unveils his gingerbread Pentagon, a replica of the United States Pentagon for guests and the community to enjoy. This will be the first time that the Pentagon will be replicated with gingerbread. Guests are invited to opening day festivities, on Friday, November 23rd at 10am, which will include hot spiced cider, hot chocolate, and other holiday treats provided by the talented Pastry Team.

Now, I have made gingerbread men, but never so much as a gingerbread house, and I was impressed. Look, it has tiny battery run LED lights! How cute.
But I think I will stick with the cookies again this year. That looks just a little stressful, doesn't it, and unlike the Chef, I do not have a pasty team to assist me.
So here is my recipe.. which I think is quite good.
It makes a cookie that is not too hard and dry and very tasty and just a little spicy, as a good gingerbread should be.

Gingerbread Cookies 
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened) 
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses 
  • Optional raisins, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting 
Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) 
1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

 2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3. Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired. Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.

Royal Icing
The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria. With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture's temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form.
Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 Tbsp egg white powder with 2 Tbsp water. Proceed as you would otherwise.

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.


This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. I've never attempted a gingerbread house either. But that gingerbread Pentagon looks awesome. I have a cookie exchange in a couple of weeks; I'm tempted to make your cookies. Who doesn't love gingerbread men?

    1. true...and you can decorate however you wish. although I am a traditionalist.

  2. That's an amazing sight! What talent....I would be willing to make cookies, and maybe even a small house, but this is a work of art.

  3. Holy cow! That thing is a piece of art. I make gingerbread houses with my kids every year and let me tell you, they're a lot harder to make pretty than you think. Cool! Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. What a fabulous way to spend your holiday! That gingerbread Pentagon is awesome!

  5. I am impressed by that gingerbread house! And your cookies look so cute!

  6. Even with those premade kits, our gingerbread houses never really work so I realize how impressive this really is!

  7. SOoooo cool! I love that Gingerbread Pentagon.

    I love gingerbread cake, cookies and houses! Such a happy thing, you know? Your recipe looks great--I like the center of my gingerbread men to be a little soft, not too hard as well.

    I've made a gingerbread house maybe three times in the past.. it's quite fun and not really as difficult as you think to make. I like to save the left over Halloween candy from my daughters' trick-or-treating to decorate the house. I recently picked up a Christmas Baking magazine at the supermarket with a new gingerbread house design in it to try this year. I can't wait!

  8. Amazing! Posting this one of facebook. That is super cool!

  9. I love ginger but don't often use it in sweet dishes. Will have to give gingerbread a try. Have a great week.

  10. We enjoyed those pre-made kits for a couple of years, but last year my girls just fought about them :( so I scratched them off the list. Can you even imagine what it's like in the kitchen when all those fellas are putting that Pentagon just can't be all happy and smiley the entire time ;) Now that would make quite the reality show :):)

  11. That gingerbread Pentagon is very impressive! I remember the gingerbread houses my kids would make in school would make it home missing most of the gumdrops and other candy decorations. It was pretty cute.

  12. Oh man, the gingerbread Pentagon! How beautiful, but who would ever want to eat it?! It's too good.

  13. Now that is one clever gingerbread house. I love to visit Washington DC and I appreciate you sharing the treasures you find there; I keep a list of places I need to visit, and personal recommendations are better than Frommers.

  14. Your cookies are adorable-I never seem to get them right-I am a huge fan of gingerbread men-I have a gingerbread cookbook. That house is great.

  15. I haven't made gingerbread cookies for years. You've inspired me. I think I'll attempt them this week although they won't be traditional in looks. I'm just itching to try out my new super sized penguin cookie cutter.

    1. Oh my, you must share a picture of that! lol

  16. I love gingerbread cookies. Last year, before a cookie swap, I was running out of time. I let my artist husband decorate the cookies. We had a Hulk, Wolverine, Zombies, a Dalek, and other assorted nerd characters. They were a huge hit.


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