Gingerbread Cookies… My Favorite!

For me, it’s just not Christmas without gingerbread cookies… Don’t get me wrong – all of the other cookies are great, but they just aren’t the same!

I’ve been making the same gingerbread recipe since I was a kid and I made these with my mom.  They puff up beautifully, making cookies that are soft and great for decorating.

This year, my cookies turned out much better than they usually do because I had a few royal icing tips from Gail (@THEToughCookie).  She is the best!  Be sure to check out her gorgeous cookies over at One Tough Cookie NYC… I want to take a cookie decorating class with her the next time I visit NYC!

After reading her tips, I realized that I have been doing it all wrong for years and years. No wonder I always hated royal icing! I have also stopped using separated egg whites to make icing.  I bought some meringue powder, and I am loving the results.  You can see my icing “recipe” below!

Gingerbread Cookies

(adapted from Betty Crocker Cooky Book)

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups dark molasses (I use Brer Rabbit)
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 7 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat together the shortening, brown sugar, and molasses to remove any lumps.  Add the cold water and stir until combined with the other ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.  Gradually add to the molasses mixture, stirring until all of the ingredients are incorporated.  Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease baking sheets and set aside.

Roll the dough about 1/4 inch think on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place them on the baking sheets, leaving room for the cookies to spread just a bit. Bake for about 9-10 minutes.  The cookie are done when the cookie springs back when touched lightly.

Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Royal Icing

This is the icing I made to decorate my gingerbread cookies… Add the water slowly.  The amount needed for the recipe will vary based on the humidity in the air and other factors. You will want to beat the icing to soft peak consistency for piping.  For flood icing, thin with some extra water (gradually) until you have the desired consistency.

  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar (approximately 4 cups, but I recommend using a scale if possible)
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine the confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder in a large mixing bowl.  Fit stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment and beat on medium-low speed, adding 3/4 of the water right way.  Beat for about 5-7 minutes, until the icing is light and fluffy.  Add the remaining water, as necessary, to adjust the consistency.

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