Christmas Gingerbread Cookies ... The Recipe

Martha Stewart Living:  "Molasses-Gingerbread Cookies"


(Note: makes a ton of cookies ... so I usually cut the recipe in half and get 2 dozen medium sized cookies.  Recipe says "Makes about 2 dozen town house, 4 dozen deer or trees or 6 dozen men." ... Good Night?! You could have a gingerbread man snowball fight with that many men ... start your own army or something?)

5 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (save additional 1/2 to 1 cup out for dusting when rolling dough out)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (note:  I just use the ground spice from the jar and it works just fine)
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar (vip:  they mean PACKED ... squish it down in the measure cup!! Or your cookies won't taste right.)
2 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses (hard to find, but it is out there ... I made one year with regular molasses and it was okay ... cookies were just darker with a more intense molasses flavor.)

*Choice of icing  (Martha uses her royal icing, but I like a creamy, cream-cheese and vanilla frosting with my gingerbread. I'll include the recipe after this).

*see frosting recipe below.


(Well, my version of directions ... I'm not big on following directions ... I eliminate "perfectionist" and wasteful steps, winging-it instead and my cookies always turn out just fine ... If you want to go by the letter: visit the martha website for excruciatingly detailed directions.)

1.  Stir together flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl.

2.  Blend softened butter (not melted! ... 12 sec. in microwave works about right for stick right out of the fridge) with sugar on medium high speed with mixer or food processor.  When mixture is creamy, fluffy and well blended add the eggs.  Then beat in the molasses.

3. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly blend in the flour mixture from step 1 above.  Mix until dough is well blended.  [Note: this is a thick dough and often times I have to stop the mixer and just use my hands at the end to work all of the flour into the dough mixture.  Sometimes, I will even have to add some warm water a teaspoon (use sparingly!!) at a time to get the final mix.  You can always add a dash more flour if the finally mix needs to be firmed up a bit.]

4.  If you were brave and made the full batch of monster dough:  divide it into 3 parts and refrigerate for 1 hour ... or if you're in a hurry, I do 1/2 hour in the freezer.  (Note: popping the dough back into the freezer between re-rolling also helps to firm the dough back up so that it cuts better with the cookie cutters).  Otherwise you can divide the dough into two parts and then refriegerate ... again for 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

6. Flour a dry clean rolling surface ... dust rolling pin with flour ... and roll dough out to an even flat 1/4 inch thick.  Flour cookie cutter and cut out desired shapes.  Place immediately on prepared cookie sheet (i.e., Martha uses "parchment paper" ... I spray my cookie sheet 1x with a baking spray for "baking" at the start and it's good to go for the whole run of multiple batches.)

7.  Bake cookies for about 6 minutes per batch.  Then rotate the tray and bake for an additional 4-6 min.  Larger cookies may take up to 8 additional minutes in some cases.  Just watch the cookies; you can see when they are done ... you DON'T WANT THEM TO BROWN!!

8.  Allow cookies to set on pan for about 2-3 min.'s then remove to parchment paper or paper towels to cool.  When cookies are room temperature they can be frosted.

9.  Frost cookies.  You can use the fancy pastry bags if you want.  I don't have the time or the patience.  I give my kids a butter knife and let them go at it.  Kids are great at frosting:  they really goop it on nice and thick the way a cookie ought to be when you bite into  : )-

10. Top with colored sprinkles or my favorite topping: crushed candy canes [just put all of the broken pieces into a freezer ziplock bag and then take out all of your Christmas frustrations on the bag with a hammer.  The latter works wonders for your budget (some of those toppings ain't cheap?!) and your mental health!! You can't beat it! ; ) ... And of course my kids love that Mom's Christmas Cookie Recipe calls for an actual hammer.]

11.  Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and dig in!! Yumm!!

12/26/2011 ... Updated the cooking times a bit.  Think the times were inadvertently shortened in the translation to typed format (by me).  Also have noticed --since baking a few dozen this Christmas-- that my Gingerbread Cookies seem to disappear 3x as fast as the Shortbread Cookies ... especially the Gingerbread Cookies with the crushed candy canes on top.  The combination of the gingerbread, cream cheese frosting and candy canes sprinkled on top just seems to be the magic that makes these cookies ROCK.  Enjoy!

Photo By my daughter, Bethany : )

Creamy Vanilla Frosting  (my recipe)

Note: makes enough to frost about 2 dozen medium sized cookies.  Double if you need more.  This icing freezes well and you can use it on top homemade cinnamon rolls too.

3 cups powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) package of cream-cheese softened  (e.g., pop in the microwave for 20-40 seconds or longer depending upon your microwave wattage)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl combine ingredients (note:  if you use a mixer start on low speed until ingreadient begin to combine nicely or you wind up with a dust cloud of powered sugar everywhere) and blend until smooth.

Notes: 1) I usually add extra vanilla to my frosting because I like that strong flavor ... taste it and decide for yourself.  Also if you want to thin the mixture a bit add a teaspoon of warm water at a time until you reach the desired consistency or add extra powdered sugar to rethicken the mixture.  2) After frosting sits out for a bit (i.e., you're doing a lot of cookies ... it tends to thicken ... again you add teaspoons of warm water to thin it back out again so that you can finish frosting all of the cookies.

If you want to have different colors of frosting:  Divide frosting into smaller bowls and add your desired choice of food colorings.  I usually leave the frosting white for gingerbread cookies.