It just wouldn’t be the holidays if I didn’t showcase gingerbread cookies! I love to make them because they’re cute, delicious, and fun to decorate.
I’ve tried many recipes, including the one in my grandmother’s box, but have had the best luck using one from Rick Rodgers’ Christmas 101 book. I found the recipe many years ago on the Food Network site and it has remained my go-to source. It’s a great recipe that can produce crispy cookies when the dough is rolled very thinly, or slightly soft and tender cookies when the dough is rolled out a bit thicker. The dough is very easy to handle, but the secret to the best flavor is to refrigerate it for at least a few hours so everything melds together.
Once the dough has chilled and you’ve painstakingly cut out your favorite shapes, the best part is decorating! If you’re not inclined to do them all by yourself, just ask some friends to come over and help. One year I had several stop by — I plied them with dinner and wine and we had lots of fun sharing our creative ideas about decorating (some even found talents they didn’t know they had!). As for me, I tend to go with the more traditional icing styles, but my hubby (the artist) takes lots of creative liberties so you never know what you’ll get. Below are some of his cookies — I especially like the cats and the running guy:
I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do! Happy Holidays 🙂
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. cinnamon
- ¾ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. allspice
- ½ tsp.ground cloves
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp.-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on how spicy you like it!)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ c. shortening (I use Crisco), room temperature
- ½ c. brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ⅔ c. molasses
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position racks to top third and bottom third of oven.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sift dry ingredients into a small bowl.
- In another bowl, beat butter and shortening until creamy; add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy; add egg and molasses & mix to combine thoroughly.
- At low speed, slowly add in flour mixture. The dough will be stiff, so you may need to mix by hand.
- Divide dough into two balls. Flatten into disks then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
- When ready to make the cookies, remove one disk from refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature until it's easy enough to handle.
- Place on a lightly floured surface.
- Roll dough to ¼" thick and cut out cookies.
- Transfer cookies to parchment-lined sheets, about 1" apart.
- Bake until edges are slightly brown, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on wire rack before decorating.
- Frost/decorate with Royal Icing recipe (see Notes).
4½ c. confectioner's sugar
2 Tb. dried egg-white powder (I prefer this over raw egg whites)
6 Tb. warm water
1. In a mixing bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the sugar, egg-white powder and water until well-combined.
2. Increase the speed to high and keep mixing until it's shiny, stiff and thick enough to pipe in a pastry bag. (The icing can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to put a damp paper towel over the mixture before sealing it.)
3. Add food coloring, if desired.
4. When ready to use, load up your pastry bag(s) and get creative!