I really enjoy gingerbread cookies, especially when they’re thick and soft, but somehow I had never made any before. I had bookmarked a recipe on Cook’s Country for future reference, but then two Christmases ago, my sister brought over her own gingerbread cookies, and I knew that those were the ones I wanted to make. It’s from Bless This Mess I finally got around to it just before we left for the holidays last month, and they were delicious!
The hard part, really, is decorating them. I mean, putting stuff on them is not hard, but making things look the way you envision takes a lot of talent! I decided not to obsess about it, since It was my first time. I looked at this video to figure out how to decorate snowflakes, but obviously it’s *way* beyond my talent; at this point I was working more on figuring out what consistency to make the royal icing. I used the recipe on the back of a package of meringue powder for the white icing, and I bought 4 tubes of ready-made colored icing to supplement (and make my life easier, especially since I was decorating with the Little Prince!). We also used M&Ms, though miniature ones would have been nice too, and I used candy eyes, but I’d omit them next time because let’s face it, the gingerbread men look a bit creepy with them! Sprinkles or coarse sanding sugar would have been good additions as well. There’s more inspiration here.
The dough can be refrigerated for a few days, and baked, undecorated cookies can be frozen (we ended up doing this with a lot of ours, even some decorated ones, since we were leaving town shortly after baking them). Baked and decorated cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container. The recipe makes about 3 dozen large cookies; I ended up with more (24 snowflakes and 30 gingerbread people, with a few scraps) because I rolled them a bit too thin (I baked them for 8 minutes instead of 10, but I’d make them thicker next time, ½” instead of ¼”).
1 cup lactose-free butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup light or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap or cooking molasses)
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
Cream butter, adding sugar gradually. Beat until well combined and light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar.
Sift all of the dry ingredients together and then blend sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, working in a few batches, stirring after each addition. The dough should come together when you press it in your hands but not crumble much.
Divide the dough into two even pieces, wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 90 minutes.
When the dough is done chilling, preheat oven to 350 °F. Working in sections, roll the dough to ½″ thick on a floured surface; cut into desired shapes. Place shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Gather and reroll “scraps” of dough as needed, using all of the dough.
Bake for 9-11 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and then move to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough.