Start to Finish: 2 3/4 to 24 3/4 hours Servings: 36 medium-size cookies Difficulty Level: Beginner
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The spicy scent of gingerbread cookies evokes memories of holidays and childhood. Fortunately, these sturdy cookies, adapted from a recipe in the 1963 Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, are fairly simple to make and hold up well for decorating. As the dough must be refrigerated to roll out and cook properly, make sure to plan for the extra time.
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup dark molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed. Beat in the molasses in 2 additions. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.
On medium-low speed, beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not overmix the dough. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, but up to 24.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the gingerbread dough to 1/4 inch thick. Use lightly floured cutters in the shapes of your choosing to cut out cookies. Combine and reroll any scraps; cut out more cookies and repeat until the dough is used up.
Arrange the cookies on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between each cookie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until touching a cookie does not leave an indent. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack immediately. Cool completely before decorating.
- Do not overmix the gingerbread dough after adding the flour, as doing so will toughen the cookies.
- If you do not have parchment paper, lightly grease your baking sheets with a nonstick spray or butter.
- For softer cookies, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick and remove the cookies from the oven while slightly undercooked.
- When cutting out delicate or large cookies, do it on a sheet of parchment paper. After you cut the shapes, remove any scraps and simply slide the parchment sheet and cookies from the counter onto your baking sheet.
- Store cookies between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Prepare a simple icing of 2 cups confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavored extract and 4 to 5 tablespoons half and half or whole milk. Adjust the consistency to taste by using more or less liquid. Add citrus zest if desired. Divide the icing and use food coloring to create a variety of colors, if desired. Fit a pastry bag with a round tip and pipe designs onto the cookies. Alternatively, fill a small squeeze bottle with the icing. Add colorful sprinkles or sugar, small candies or semisweet chocolate chips. Allow icing to harden for 2 hours before serving or storing the cookies.