I love gingerbread cookies. They are fun to make and decorate, and they taste awesome. Especially when you use quality spices. One of the things we’ve learned through these baking adventures is that good baking (and cooking) is really about quality ingredients.
They are also pretty simple to make. The only tricky part is rolling out the cookies, which takes some patience. In the past, I have used a liberal amount of flour on both the (clean) counter and rolling pin, frequently reapplying flour and intermittently picking up the dough to ensure that it doesn’t get embedded into the counter. Recently, I have begun using plastic wrap as a barrier between the dough and counter and the dough and rolling pin to better prevent sticking. I still place a small amount of flour between the dough and plastic wrap, but it requires much less. Finally, to remove flour from your rolled cookies, use a small pastry brush to lightly dust off the flour.
For decorating the cookies Alison found Alton Brown’s Royal Icing Recipe. Worked perfectly (for making cute Christmas cookies, cat-shaped treats, and anatomically correct–but maybe with a push-up bra?–gingerbread ladies)!
barely adapted from The Good Cookie
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or freshly grated)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon mild molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and spices. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in egg until just combined.
- In a small bowl, mix together the hot water, molasses, and baking soda until baking soda is dissolved.
- At low speed, gradually mix the molasses and baking soda mixture into the batter. Increase speed to medium and mix until blended.
- At low speed, add dry ingredients in three parts, mixing until just combined.
- Using your hands, collect the dough and separate into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I usually make this at night, then let it refrigerate over night).
- Once ready for baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets by greasing them lightly with butter.
- Remove a disk of dough from the oven, break in half, and place one of the halves back in the refrigerator. Roll the other half out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch (roll out a bit thicker if you prefer softer cookies). Using cookie cutters, make gingerbread people (or cats, trees, snowflakes, etc.) and place on the prepared pan.
- Collect the dough scraps into a small disk, re-wrap and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with all the dough, then use the scraps once re-refrigerated.
- Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, until edges are just starting to darken.
- Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate, and share! (Or keep them all to yourself. We won’t judge.)