Lucy Brewster, the free-spirited proprietor of Sweet Inspiration, has a flair for concocting sugary confections but no time for adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole...rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams. Does she have what it takes to become the next Mrs. Klaus?
*****Nicholas Klaus: Thank you, Rita, for inviting us to your blog today. I'm looking forward to sharing my gingerbread cookie recipe with your readers. As you may know, I run a bakery in the North Pole called Klaus Küche. Our specialty is Christmas cookies, of course.
Lucy Brewster Klaus: Hi Rita! Not only does Nicholas have a fabulous bakery in Glasdorf (the village in the North Pole where the Klaus family resides), but there is also an entire room filled with a gingerbread city, called the Pfefferkuchen room. Elfin magik makes the whole room come alive! It is so cool....
Nicholas: (laughing) Lucy gets a big kick out of that room. Although she has a tendency to distract my elfin workers. Let's just say that the Pfefferkuchen room has turned into party central since Lucy's come on board....
Lucy (rolls her eyes): Uh oh. Drill Sergeant Klaus is in the building....
Nicholas (lifts eyebrow): Keeping the elves in line is a full time job. (clears throat) Now, onto the cooking recipe. I've studied with master pastry chefs all over the world, and learned some fascinating cooking techniques. I have degrees from the Culinary Institute of America, The French Culinary Institute, Kochschule Eppelheim near Heidelberg....
Lucy: Uh, Nicholas, I don't think you need to give everyone your credentials. I learned how to bake from the School of Hard Knocks and I seem to be doing okay. (flutters eyelashes flirtatiously at Nicholas)
Nicholas: (roars with laughter) You certainly are. (grabs Lucy and nuzzles her neck) Although I know for a fact that you attended culinary school, too.
Lucy: That's true, but most of my baking experience came from working with my mother in the kitchen. A pinch of this, a pinch of that...
Nicholas (cringing): In spite of that, your sugar cookies are the best I've ever tasted. Even if you do have a somewhat unorthodox way of baking. As in, completely unorthodox. As in, winging it every time....
Lucy: (giggles) Well, it works! I think we should have a throw-down competition like Bobby Flay. You make a batch of gingerbread your way (as in, measuring every single ingredient within an inch of its life) and I'll make a batch my way (by taste, the way God intended). What do you say?
Nicholas (folds arms across chest in an intimidating manner): You know I can't resist a challenge, Mrs. Klaus. You're on!
Lucy: First up, the ingredients....these are for St. Nick's Gingerbread Men...
- 2 and 1/3 c. flour
- 2 t. ground ginger
- 1 and 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/4 t. ground cloves
- 1/4 t. salt
- 3/4 c. (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp
- 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 c. light molasses
- 1 large egg
- Sift the first six ingredients together
....Uh, Nicholas what's wrong?
Nicholas: (eye is twitching): Sweetheart, you know it wouldn't hurt you to use one of these. (hands Lucy a measuring spoon) It's this amazing new invention called a measuring spoon. Ever heard of it?
Lucy: (ignores Nicholas and continues popping ingredients into mixing bowl) Uh huh.
Nicholas: (peers into Lucy's bowl nervously) That looks like a lot of cinnamon...
Lucy: Nicholas, for goodness sake! Why don't you worry about your own batch of gingerbread. Mine will be just fine. Delicious. I promise. (leans over and kisses Nicholas' beard)
Nicholas (sighs in defeat) All right. (assembles measuring cups, glasses and spoons). Here I go....
Sift first six ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and molasses in a large bowl until fluffy, then beat in the egg. Add the dry ingredients, stir to combine. Gather the dough into a ball and divide into three pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease cookie sheets. Roll out disk of dough onto floured surface to 1/4" thick. Cut out gingerbread men with cookie cutters, and then place about 1" apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Once cookies have cooled, frost or decorate with colored sugar, etc.
2 Hours Later...Nicholas is wearing his perfectly starched apron with Klaus Küche embroidered on the front. Dozens of gingerbread men are lined up like toy soldiers on the counter in front of him. Each cookie has exactly 3 silver buttons, a red and green-striped frosting scarf, and M and M eyes.
Lucy has flour on her nose, her red curly hair is escaping from her bandana, and she is working on the last gingerbread man. Each one of her cookies is a unique, one-of-a-kind design. The last one has punk green hair, a tattoo with holly and ivy, and is holding a snowboard (just like Oskar Klaus, Nicholas' youngest brother, the hero of SWEET MAGIK, coming November 2011).
Nicholas: Hmm....those are adorable, Schatzi. Mind if I try one?
Lucy: (plucks a cookie from the counter and feeds it to Nicholas) What do you think?
Nicholas: (closes his eyes in bliss) Delicious. Soft and chewy, just the way I like them. In spite of your care-free approach to baking, these cookies turned out perfectly.
Lucy: (carefully chooses one of Nicholas' cookies and takes a bite) Oh, Nicholas! This is wonderful. In spite of your uptight attitude about baking (Nicholas smirks) these are excellent. But I still wish you would lighten up in the kitchen, my love.
Nicholas: (puts his arms around Lucy) And I wish you would start using a measuring cup. I think this throw-down was a draw. Both of our methods were successful. What do you think?
Lucy: (smiles at Nicholas) I think you're right. Although I would dearly like to have Bobby Flay up to the North Pole for a real throw-down. Do you think he'd consider it?
Nicholas: I think he might be freaked out by the elves.
Lucy: Hmm. Good point. Well, Merry Christmas to Rita and all of her friends! So glad we got to cook for you today.
Nicholas: The Klaus Family wishes all of your readers a happy, healthy holiday season!
Happy Holidays to you guys, too! Nick and Lucy, what a GREAT recipe for me to gorge on ;)!
-Check out my interview with the author, Penny Watson, here-