It just doesn't seem like Christmas without gingerbread cookies - the smell of molasses and spices wafting through the house as the cookies bake to perfection, reminds me of my grandmother, who always had gingerbread cookies as part of the holiday dessert menu. I've made this recipe part of my baking tradition
This recipe delicious and fun to bake with the kids, although if you don't have much experience with roll-out cookies, they can be a bit tricky. Do not skip the chilling step and be careful not to add too much flour as you roll out the dough. If I don't have time to roll out the entire batch at one time, I rewrap the remaining dough, refrigerate it and finish cutting out and baking the cookies another day.
Gingerbread Boys and Girls
Recipe from Paula Deen
18 to 20 cookies, depending on cutter size
For the cookies:
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 stick salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Red and green food coloring, as desired
Assorted sprinkles, as desired
Using a mixer on low speed, cream the brown sugar and butter in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Mix in the eggs and molasses.
Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix with a spoon. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Line 1 or more cookie sheets with parchment paper. Take about 1/2 cup dough at a time and roll on a floured surface until - to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes with 5-by-3-inch gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters. (Re-roll the scraps.) Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets, leaving space between them. Refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes, then bake until they just begin to brown at the edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar and milk in a bowl. Leave white or divide among bowls and add food coloring. Decorate cookies with icing; use a pastry bag to pipe eyes, mouths, buttons and bow ties. Top with sprinkles.
Editor's Note: We at TSB thought it would be fun to kick off December by thinking cookies - lots of cookies for the holidays. In anticipation of the TSB Cookie Exchange on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m., we will be posting a cookie recipe a day, most of which will be taken from my own kitchen files of family favorites.