Homemade Gingerbread Cookies
Christmas is just days away, and I have been cranking out all kinds of holiday treats from my kitchen (in January I will be cranking out miles in the gym to pay for it…). This year, I strategically waited until my Mother-in-law arrived in town because she washes dishes like nobody’s business. This is a big deal because I don’t have a dishwasher in my kitchen (and I love my MIL, of course). I will happily keep the house stocked with baked goods as long as I don’t have to do the dishes afterward. It’s a nice trade-off, if you ask me.
In my next two posts, I’ll be sharing my two favorite roll & cut Christmas cookie recipes. When I say roll & cut, I’m just talking about a dough that requires rolling out with a pin and cutting out with cookie cutters. Know that this is coming from somebody who absolutely hates rolling and cutting anything (pie crust, fabric, wrapping paper… you name it) so if I highly recommend these, they’ve got to be good enough to merit the effort.
If your rolling pin has been gathering dust in the back of your drawer, it’s time to break it out. Seriously, don’t let your rolling pin intimidate you. Show that thing who’s boss. You’ll get some delicious cookies as a result. My advice? Get your kids involved, and you will have a great excuse if they look, um, less than perfect.
After much trial and error, I’ve achieved the best roll & cut cookie results by sticking with these simple rules:
- CHILL the dough before handling. Keep it in the refrigerator between batches as well. Warm dough is sticky dough and sticky dough is tricky to roll out.
- FLOUR is your friend: always keep your rolling surface & pin lightly floured.
- Don’t ROLL the dough too thin if you like a softer cookie. 1/4″ thick is great.
- Use a thin METAL SPATULA to transfer your cookies from the floured surface to the cookie sheets.
- LIGHT BROWN on the edges = done. Don’t overbake them unless you are like my father and prefer your cookies just this side of burned.
- BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the cookies I decorated, and the ones my toddler did. I don’t have the time or the interest or the patience to meticulously embelish anything, let alone cookies. They may not look like much, but trust me, they taste good. My hat’s off to those of you who make food look pretty.
- Cookies can be FROSTED or GLAZED or SPRINKLED or… I just mix together powdered sugar, water, and food coloring until it’s a smooth consistency but not too runny.
Royal Icing will set up more firm and shiny if you want to pipe definite designs onto your cookies. Icing bags and tips are an inexpensive way to take your decorating up a notch. I usually use a heavy-duty Ziploc bag with a tiny corner snipped off if I want to get super-fancy and, say, outline my cookies. Do whatever works best for you.
Follow these tips, and you will be cranking out tasty treats in all kinds of fun shapes in no time. Here’s my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe, highlighting ginger, cinnamon, and molasses. Mmm. Bring on Christmas.
Roll and Cut Gingerbread Cookies
1 c. shortening (or butter)
1 c. sugar
1 c. molasses
4 ½ c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 T. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. salt
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together shortening, sugar, and molasses. Add the egg and mix until thoroughly combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl; stir to combine.
- Chill dough until slightly firm. Using a rolling pin and working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll the dough ¼” thick and cut into desired shapes.
- Transfer the shapes to greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 9-10 min. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Frost and decorate as desired.
My favorite rolling pin is this beautiful, inexpensive French Rolling Pin. It’s available on Amazon for around $10. Great price for a quality product!
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