Benefits of buying Christmassy things after Christmas: you get an awesome deal!
Suckyness of buying Christmassy things after Christmas: you gotta wait a year to use them.
Post-suckyness benefit: you get 365 days of being super excited when you finally get to use them!
Such was the case with these cookie cutters I nabbed at my Williams-Sonoma store during my boxing day shopping madness of 2012. I loved how they are 3D and thought they would be awesome to make for display (and eating) for the house.
I pulled out an existing gingerbread recipe I had found and used last Christmas and loved because it doesn’t call for that sticky molasses which tends to annoy me more than anything.
I floured up the cutters real good to reduce the cut shapes sticking to the roll dough. However in some of the narrower areas, I would use a chop stick and gently push them out. Don’t be too concerned if you end up putting little circles into the dough, the cookies will puff and smooth out in the oven anyways.
I’ve had some frustrating times in the past with 3D cookie templates, mainly with the issue of them not interlocking as seamlessly as they are meant to. However I learned a few things to help me out with this that I thought I’d share if you ever decide to try these:
1) Don’t roll out your cookie too thick or thin, otherwise they won’t interlock properly. Roll them too thick, and the pieces won’t fit. Roll them too thin, and they might wiggle around. In my case I rolled my dough fairly thin, not just because I preferred to err on the side of them being a bit more wobbly rather than they become to thick that they wouldn’t interlock, but also because I simply needed my batter to stretch far enough to make all the shapes I needed. These cookies were just going to be displayed at home and weren’t going anywhere so it was a decision I went with.
2) Lay the cut shapes down properly on your pan before you bake them. Make sure they aren’t bent/curved, otherwise it may affect the way the shapes interlock. What I like to do is after I lay the cut shapes onto the baking sheet, I like to take my cookie cutter, and from a birds eye view make sure that my cut cookie shape lined up with it’s respective cutter. You’d be surprised at how “off” your shape can be, I know I was, and it doesn’t take much for your shapes to no longer interlock. Doing this may seem anal but I think it’ll save you some grief later on when you have to assemble them.
3) It also helps to make a few extras of some of the pieces to allow for a buffer. There’s nothing worse than having the exact number of pieces you need, only to break one and having to make another batch of dough for it. Also, having a few extras of each shape also gives you room to play around with the pieces to make sure they fit okay (explained in #4).
4) Once cooled, I started playing around with the pieces to make sure I could get them to all interlock with each other to form the final set of cookies I wanted. I found some reindeer legs interlocked some reindeer torsos than others, some tree tops fit better with other tree bottoms, and so forth. Once I got them to all match, I made sure I kept them together so I didn’t need to figure them out later on. And as mentioned in #3, having some extras of each shape gave me extra shapes to play with to make sure that I would get all the assembled cookies I wanted.
5) After all that, sometimes your cookies JUST WONT FIT. no worries, all I did was take a serrated steak knife and lightly shave the interlocking gaps so that they could be wide enough to fit around the pieces they needed to nest into. Be sure to do this gently and a little at a time so you don’t risk breaking the pieces. (also speaking from personal experience here.)
6) Once you get your pieces to fit, watch where your icing goes. A layer of royal icing that gets in the way as to where a piece is suppose to sit can make an otherwise interlocking piece no longer fit. Again, I speak from experience. I had decorated my santa sleigh, only to find out shortly after that the back of the sleigh no longer fit over one of the sides. Luckily I found this out sooner than later, so while the icing was still soft (it had dried, but not completely hardened), I went in with a paring knife, and just cut away a section of the icing that was in the way.
Keeping it simple, I decided to decorate them the same way as appeared on the box. I just love the simplicity of it, it almost reminds me of kraft paper drawings kids would do in school.
Good luck with yours, and happy assembling!