To me the smell of gingerbread reminds me of my Granny and the holidays! It is funny how a smell can bring back so many memories. The best part about gingerbread is the dough is very forgiving so you can mix it, shape it, roll it, punch it, squeeze it and it stands up to the kids assistance!
This recipe can be used for gingerbread houses, cookies or even tree ornaments. I've been known to make the dough ahead of time and freeze it so we can skip the mess in the kitchen and just bake and decorate! Decorating cookies is one of my favorite memories of the holiday season, hopefully you can create some fun new memories with your family too!
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- In a large bowl, add the butter and brown sugar. Use a mixer, set on medium speed, to cream the ingredients into a light, fluffy mixture.
- Add the molasses, egg, and water. Mix until combined thoroughly.
- In a small bowl, add the flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and brown sugar mixture. Blend until all ingredients are well combined and the dough is uniform throughout.
- Divide the dough in half, placing each half into a small bowl. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. When it is ready, the dough should be firm and easy to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease two baking sheets, setting these aside for later use.
- Lightly flour your work surface and add some flour into a shallow dish. The dish should be big enough to hold several cookie cutters that are about 4 inches on the longest side.
- Place your cookie cutters in the dish and set the dish aside.
- On your floured work surface, roll out each half of the chilled dough to be about 1/8 inch thick.
- Use the floured cookie cutters to cut out the gingerbread shapes and place the shapes 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Bake the cookies about 10 minutes or until the centers are done and the edges are firm.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool completely.
- Reroll the dough scraps, continuing to cut out and bake the cookies until all of your dough is used.
The icing always seems to the tricky part but once you find the perfect combination of ingredients it is quick and easy. I like to make a few color choices of icing so the kids can have fun decorating and make the cookies their own. You'd be surprised at how long kids will sit and decorate cookies, we look forward to making our gingerbread cookies every year. The icing recipe I use is:
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or flavoring
- 2 tablespoons milk or water
- Food coloring, optional
- Combine ingredients and mix with a spoon until combined, the icing should be very thick but should still slide off of spoon.
- Use food coloring or flavoring to suit you needs
- For thinner icing add a little more milk or water
And now our favorite part – decorating!! The kids and I collect different shapes, candies and sprinkles to use for our cookie making letting them choose is half the fun! Our decorating ideas include:
- cookie cutters, check your local dollar store for some fun shapes at great prices!
- Royal icing in a squirt bottle or Ziploc bag with the corner cut out for detailed designs
- Miniature candies
- Colored sugar
- Melted chocolate
The best thing to do is create a station at the table for decorating, I even buy an inexpensive table cloth at the dollar store so I can just roll it up and throw it out afterward. I learned that trick the hard way after scraping dried icing and sprinkles off the table one year, placemats and paper also work great for easy clean up.
Test out your creativity and make a batch of gingerbread cookies!