Gingerbread Cookies!

I always make gingerbread cookies to kick off the holiday season. To me, they scream Christmas, because you just don’t see them any other time of the year. This recipe is awesome, as its a bit spicy but not too sweet. All you need is a big glass of milk, or a mug o’ coffee. The recipe came from my favorite cookie book, Nick Malgieri’s Cookies Unlimited.

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Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

5 c all-purpose flour
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 c molasses

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda; stir well to mix.

2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar until well mixed, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and beater.

3. Lower the speed and beat in about half the flour mixture. Beat in all the molasses, then scrape down the bowl and beater. Add the remaining flour mixture, about a cup at a time, and beat after each addition, until it has all been absorbed.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the dough a final mixing with a large rubber spatula. Scrape half the dough into a large piece of plastic wrap and press it to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Wrap the dough securely and repeat with the remaining dough. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days.

5. When you are ready to bake the cookies, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

6. Unwrap one of the pieces of dough and cut in half. Re-wrap one of the halves and return it to the refrigerator.

7. On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Use a floured cutter to cut the cookies. As they are cut, place the cut cookies on the prepared pans about an inch apart in all directions. Repeat with the remaining dough. Save, press together, and re-roll the scraps to make more cookies. They don’t need to be chilled before re-rolling.

8. Bake the cookies about 12-15 minutes, or until they become dull and dry-looking and feel slightly firm when pressed with a fingertip. If you overbake the cookies, they will be very dry. Slide the papers from the pans onto racks to cool.

9. After the cookies have cooled, decorate them with royal icing and other decorating ingredients if desired. Let the royal icing dry before packing up the cookies. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight fitting cover.

Makes About 30 Large Cookies

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Royal Icing Recipe

3 large egg whites
One 1-pound box confectioner’s sugar (about4 cups)
1/2 tsp lemon or distilled white vinegar

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the egg whites and confectioner’s sugar. Mix on low speed until the sugar is evenly moistened. Add the lemon juice, increase the speed to medium, and beat until the icing is light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

2. If you are using immediately, leave it in the mixing bowl, but press the plastic wrap against the surface so a skin doesn’t form. If you are making the icing in advance, pack it into a plastic container with a tight fitting cover. When a container is nearly full, cover the icing directly with the plastic wrap and then cover the plastic wrap with several damp paper towels to prevent the icing from drying. Use it the same day you make it.