Buddy sure knows how to have a great time. Elf is my favorite holiday movie. Followed closely by Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, and Love, Actually. I watched Elf last night for the hundredth time. Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit more than that movie. And starting today I am going to be a holiday cookie baking machine.
This is my second time ever making gingerbread dough. Shocking, huh? I confess. I’m guilty of being lazy and falling into the trap of buying those pre-made gingerbread house kits. They’re so tempting and alluring with the cute pictures of finished houses on the front. Plus, having all the candy decorations and royal icing included in the kit makes it seem like a more practical choice.
Well, it stops this year. This year I’m going to make my own gingerbread houses from scratch. But before I can do that, I have to test out gingerbread cookie recipes for taste and stability. The gingerbread cookies from the kits don’t taste very good. They look, smell, and oddly enough taste like cardboard. No matter how much icing and sugar I slather on those pre-made cookies, it still doesn’t taste good.
This is the dough I plan on my making my houses with. The dough is very simple to make and can be prepared in advance. Cut out your desired shapes and freeze them on a parchment line sheet tray. Let the cookies freeze for an hour and then transfer them to an airtight container. Pop them into the oven straight from the freezer when you are ready to bake.
Gingerbread Cookies, adapted from Martha Stewart
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and molasses.
3. On low speed, add flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Divide the dough in half. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Chill in refrigerator or freezer until firm, about 15 minutes in refrigerator.
6. *Depending on size and shape of cookies, bake for 10-15 minutes until cookies are crisp but not dark. Let cookies cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to wire racks. Do not let your cookies cool completely on the baking sheets. They will get soggy.
7. Once cookies have fully cooled, decorate with royal icing, sanding sugars and sprinkles.
*Note: My 3 1/2 inch gingerbread people cutouts took 13 minutes to bake.
makes about 1 cup
2 1/2 Tbsp meringue powder
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp water
1. Whisk together meringue powder and sifted confectioner’s sugar.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add whisked ingredients and water. Paddle on low-medium speed for a couple minutes until icing is smooth and shiny.
3. Use immediately. Store extra icing in an airtight container with a moistened paper towel directly on top of the icing to keep icing fresh. Store in the refrigerator.