Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Is this the ultimate holiday cookie?  If it isn't flavorwise, it's at least the epitome of the holidays.  Smelling all those spices bake up into a yummy cookie that you get to make into your favorite shapes and even decorate really puts me in the mood for Christmas.  Or in this case, Thanksgiving too.

This recipe came from a director at work who participated in my cookie exchange a few years ago.  I struggled with gingerbread cookies for a while and then I tried her recipe.  It's awesome.  They are crisp, yet still slightly soft. I don't decorate them nearly as beautifully as she does (I just don't have that patience), but the royal icing really pops on these guys.  It's a great mix of spices--I was skeptical of the pepper at first, but it's such a great combination of flavors.  I also wasn't sure about mixing the spices into the wet ingredients, but I did and the cookie speaks for itself.  Maybe that's why I've always had a hard time with other recipes.

 You don't want to roll the dough too thin--give the cookies some heartiness and roll to between 1/8 of an inch and 1/4 of an inch and you'll be fine.  The hard part is picking your cutters.

I have a problem. It's about 18 inches wide, 30 inches long and 12 inches deep and full of cookie cutters:

I had a hard time deciding, but I narrowed it down to two holiday's worth, since the recipe makes so many cookies, although I forgot to include the tree in this photo.

I love these Gingerbread guys from Fred.  They have some of the coolest stuff.


Ingredients (for cookies):

6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and add brown sugar, beating until fluffy and scraping the sides of bowl as necessary.  Mix in spices and salt.  Beat in eggs and molasses until thoroughly combined.  Add the flour mixture slowly and mix on low speed until completely incorporated.  Divide dough into thirds and wrap in plastic (I like to make mine into discs.  This helps create the shape I want when I roll the dough out).  Chill at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-1/4 inch thick.

Cut into desired shaped.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet (or a parchment or silicon lined sheet) and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.  Don't skip this step--it will keep the integrity of your shapes and ensure the baking time is accurate.  And yes, I'm embarrassed that I didn't take one photo of the rolled out dough.

Bake for 12-13 minutes.  Turn baking sheet 180 degrees halfway through. If using more than one sheet at a time, rotate positions in the oven for more even baking.  The cookies should be firm in the center, but not darker at the edges.

Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then move to complete cooling on rack.  Make sure cookies are completely cooled before decorating.

Royal Icing

Ingredients (for icing):

3 Tablespoons meringue powder (I used Wilton's)
4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons water

Using an electric mixer, place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until icing forms peaks, anywhere from 7-12 minutes.

Transfer icing to a pastry bag fitted with a writing tip (or tip of your choosing).  You can also put it in a zip top bag and cut off on corner.  Arrange cookies on a wire rack placed on top of waxed paper or your silicon mats.  Royal icing is sturdy, so it shouldn't drip, but better safe than messy.

Decorate with designs of your choosing.  You could also add food coloring to the icing if you want different colors on your finished cookies.

Makes approximately 4 dozen 4 inch cookies or 9 dozen 2-3 inch cookies, depending on the size and shape of your cutters.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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