by Eleonore Hebal
If you know me at all, you probably know that I am not a big fan of cookies. Yes, I work at a bakery. However, I typically do not enjoy making or eating cookies. Sometimes I even get grumpy about it. Gingerbread women and men are my exception. I deeply enjoy making these tasty little people with my children every year. I love decorating them with different candies, nuts, and seeds. I love biting off their delicate little hands and neckless heads. I love creating extravagant gingerbread houses and gleefully destroying them with my youngest son. Many of my silliest holiday memories revolve around gingerbread.
The recipe below is from simplyrecipes.com. It has been my go to recipe for several years now. It makes about two dozen cookies. Remember you can form them in any shape you desire. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses (do not use blackstrap molasses, it's too bitter)
Optional for decorating: raisins, currants, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices: In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
2. Make the dough: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. 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.)
3. Chill the dough: Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least one hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for five to ten minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll out, work in a little more flour.
4. Roll out dough, cut shapes: Heat oven to 350°F. 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 five to ten 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.
5. Transfer to baking sheet: Transfer to un-greased baking sheets. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".
6. Bake at 350°F until crisp but not darkened, eight to ten 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.
Royal Icing Directions
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.
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.