These spiced gingerbread cookies have so much flavor! They’re lightly sweetened so you can decorate them with royal icing or just a dusting of powdered sugar. I cut mine into adorable little gingerbread men but you can use just about any shape you like, they won’t spread! These cookies are perfect, easy to make, and absolutely delicious!
The truth is that there are so many cookies that I just adore. I love creating them, decorating, and the best part is of course, eating them. There are so many options and varieties that a gal (or guy) could never get tired of them.
Ladies and gents, I present to you my favorite winter cookie. Gingerbread cookies are one of my favorite cookies around the holidays. The smell of these cookies transport me back to my childhood and Christmas tree decorating at school. The teacher would bring these star shaped gingerbread cookie ornaments that we’d hang on the tree (they weren’t edible at all, in fact this kid got quite sick from them, yuck). But they smelled like heaven! Spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. They made the entire classroom smell pretty delicious.
I have been on a mission to find the perfect recipe for gingerbread cookies for ages. A gingerbread cookie that can be used to cut out gingerbread men, gingerbread stars, and gingerbread houses. A gingerbread cookie that can be both soft and chewy or nice and crispy. And guess what? I got it, I got it!!
It’s about that time when we start putting away the pumpkin cookies and breads, and get out all our spices for these lovely gingerbread cookies. You see, spices have a way of making everything they touch so much more flavorful.
I want to go over a few key notes with you so that you can get perfect cookies at home. These rules apply to both these gingerbread cookies and any rolled out sugar cookie as well. They will help you get perfect cut-outs and also help avoid spreading during baking.
The first secret to perfect gingerbread cookies? Refrigeration.
- Refrigeration isn’t optional. I cannot stress enough how important it is to refrigerate gingerbread cookie as well as any roll out sugar cookies. As always, plan ahead when making cookies. Just a little planning goes a long way. You need to refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. this helps the dough roll out cleaner and helps the cutout cookies keep their shape better when transferring them to a baking sheet. Oh and in between batches, make sure to pop the excess dough back into the refrigerator.
- Keep extra flour on hand. You’re going to need it for rolling out the dough on a lightly floured surface. You want the cookies to release from the surface easily, but becareful not to incorporate too much flour into the dough. Rolling out the cookies to 1/4 inch will give you thick and soft cookies, rolling the dough down to 1/8 inch will give you a crunchier cookie. Keep in mind the latter will bake a little faster. Also, dip the cookie cutter in flour before cutting out the cookies, it helps create cleaner edges and the dough won’t stick to the cutter.
- Once you’ve made your cutouts pop the cookie tray into the freezer for 5 minutes or into the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This helps the butter firm up nicely before baking. If i’ve got time, I stick them in the refrigerator and get some other stuff done, but either does the trick. Also, it is already freezing in some states, so take advantage and just leave your tray outside, like the back porch or the deck. 😀
- Don’t over-bake if you’re wanting thick and soft cookies. My gingerbread cookies require just 9-11 minutes in the oven if you want soft and chewy cookies. If you’re using a smaller than standard cookie butter, you’ll need to adjust the time accordingly. You can do this by making a test cookie. Remember a hint of brown (even though the cookies are brown, you’ll be able to tell) mean the cookies have already over-baked. If you’re going for a crispy cookie, the browning is fine, just pull it out a few seconds after browning! Allow to rest on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
- Repeat the process.
Go for the thick and chewy or the thin and crispy. I went somewhere in between and loved the texture on these babies. I didn’t use any royal icing on mine as I wanted them to be on the less sweeter side.
Here is a royal icing recipe that i’ve used before and love. I use meringue powder to make my royal icing instead of egg whites but this recipe works either way. I find the meringue powder always stabilizes my icing better than egg whites, but maybe it’s just me.
Any whooooo…. I’ll let you get to baking these spiced cookies.
The best part about all this baking?
These make the house smell fab-u-lous!
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is fine too)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 batch [url href=”http://www.marthastewart.com/857635/royal-icing” target=”_blank”]royal icing[/url] (optional)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper, set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add the egg in, allow to incorporate completely, then add in the molasses. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the flour to the butter mixture. Setting the mixer speed on low, mix until just combined. Divide dough into 2 and wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate dough until cold and firm, one hour and up to 2 days.
- Position two racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat (I highly suggest silicone mats as they help reduce spreading). Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch (for slightly softer cookies) and just a tad bit thinner (for crunchier cookies). Dip the cookie cutter in flour before cutting out the shape. Place cut outs two inches apart on baking sheet, refrigerate the cookie until they are firm, about 15 minutes. You can also place the tray in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
- Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 9-12 minutes. It may take a few minutes longer depending on the size of your cookie cutter. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. When cool proceed icing as desired or simply sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store cookings in an air tight container in between layers of parchment paper for up to 5 days.