With a slight snap on the outside, chewy insides, and the signature flavor of molasses and spices, gingerbread cookies are a Christmas classic. Here is an easy recipe for gingerbread cutout cookies that do not spread and are fun to decorate with simple icing.
Gingerbread cookies – you either love them or hate them. Took me a while to cross over to the “love” side of things, but now it’s a staple on my Christmas cookie list. The biggest allure of course is this cute guy – the gingerbread man. How adorably perfect is he?!!
My son has been reading ‘The Gingerbread Man Loose At School’ 4 out of 7 nights a week, every week for the past 6 months. It tells the story of a gingerbread boy who goes missing from his classroom. The original gingerbread man story is a bit dark and weird with the wily fox eating him up in the end. But the school story is funny and happy. It was a no-brainer that I would be making gingerbread cookies or rather a forest of them this Christmas.
Gingerbread cookies have a bad rap for being hard to get right. All that molasses and spices freak people out. But if you know which flavors you like, you can decide which spices to use. I don’t go overboard. I go for aroma and subtle flavor rather than a heavy bite of ginger. These cookies also have cinnamon, clove and a touch of cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper. I use either light or dark brown sugar depending on what I have in my pantry. These were made with light brown sugar, hence the lighter shade.
While baking cookies, it is absolutely essential to chill, chill, and chill some more. The dough, that is. Also, flour your surface generously while rolling out gingerbread cookie dough, flour your rolling-pin and cookie cutters as well. Don’t worry, the dough will bake off. Or you can use a pastry brush to lightly rub it off the shaped cookies. Chill the dough and chill the shaped cookies further to prevent the cookies from spreading and help them retain the shapes better.
Once cooled, I decorated these bad boys with a quick glaze or simple cookie icing made with powdered sugar and a bit of water. I didn’t have the patience to whip egg whites for royal icing and I didn’t want to use milk because I was not sure if it would keep well. But this icing has been hanging out in my fridge for more than two weeks now. I take out a bit of dough every now and then to bake and decorate. It’s working out fine so far, so we have a winner!
We found these cute church and truck cookie cutters, so I decided to create a little winter scene. Just love how it turned out!
If you are wondering how I made the cookies stand upright, here’s a better shot. I rolled the dough scraps into small rectangle cookies and used icing to fix the shapes on them. You can decorate the cookies with candies, sprinkles and any sort of nonpareil. I accidentally bought bubblegum sprinkles, but found this cute yellow piece to use as the truck’s headlight. But why would anyone make bubblegum sprinkles? And how do you eat it? Beats me.
This gingerbread cookie recipe is perfect and pretty versatile. The outsides have a little snap, the insides are soft and slightly chewy and the cookies smell and taste amazing. You can bake the cookies a bit soft or more crisp, and you can also roll the dough to make thumbprint cookies. I made some and filled them with Nutella, which turned out super amazing. Sorry, but I didn’t get any pictures. You’ll just have to take my word!
I have adapted this recipe slightly from one found in an old issue of The Good Housekeeping.
- All-purpose flour - 3¼ cups
- Baking soda - ¾ tsp
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Ground ginger - 1½ tsp
- Ground cinnamon - 1½ tsp
- Ground cloves - ½ tsp
- Ground nutmeg - ¼ tsp
- Ground cardamom - ⅛ tsp
- Black pepper powder - ¼ tsp
- Unsalted butter - ¾ cup, softened to room temperature
- Brown sugar -1/2 cup, tightly packed
- Egg - 1, large
- Unsulfured molasses - ½ cup
- Powdered sugar - 1½ cups, sifted
- Filtered water - 2 tbsp (or as needed)
- Gingerbread cookies: Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, salt and spices) in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in egg and molasses. Beat on medium speed until combined.
- Add the flour mixture in batches and combine on low speed, until dough comes together. Use a spatula at the end if dough seems to thick for the beater.
- Divide the dough ball into 3 or 4 parts. Flatten each part into a disc, cover tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough can be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Remember to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the baking part.
- When you are ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 deg.F. Line a couple of large cookies sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Take the chilled dough from the refrigerator and set it out for 10 minutes to make it easier to work with.
- Flour your workspace, your rolling pin and cookie cutter. Roll out a disc of dough till about ¼" thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Re-roll scraps and use up every last bit.
- Place cookies on a large parchment covered cookie sheet, an inch apart.
- Refrigerate shaped cookies briefly, say 10-15 minutes. Bake cookies for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and use a spatula to remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, decorate with icing.
- Simple cookie icing: Whisk powdered sugar with water in a bowl until smooth. If your icing is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. If your icing is too thick, add a tiny bit of water.
- Store icing in closed jar or a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator if you are not using it immediately. You can use a piping bag with a fine tip, a ziplock with the corner snipped off or a condiment squeeze bottle to ice the gingerbread cookies.
- Store iced cookies in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a week.
You must definitely try this dark and delicious Christmas cutout cookies this season. These gingerbread cutout cookies are so much fun to play with, gift and eat also. The cookies make great cake toppers as well.
What are some of the Christmas cookies that you bake? Do you like gingerbread cookies? What are your favorite shapes? Do try this easy and delicious recipe and let me know how it goes.
Want more Holiday recipes? Check out this page for all recipes under #ChristmasRecipeSeries.
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