The fragrant aroma of gingerbread cookies remind me of Christmas.
Let me show you how easy they are to make and decorate like a pro if you follow a simple family recipe and this Instructable which is full of tips, photos and directions to make your cookies not only tasty but a beautiful success!
You'll find these cookies are a great gift idea to give those hard to shop for people. They can be cut with any of your favorite cookie cutters or into simple round shapes and the decorating possibilities are almost endless! You can use a variety of colors and designs to make your cookies extra special.
These gingerbread cookies are not very sweet, so you can either leave them plain, or follow my BONUS RECIPE for Hard-Set Icing and follow the photo filled directions and tips for successful decorating.
So let's get started.
Step 1: Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
For the Gingerbread Cookies you will need:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus additional flour for rolling dough)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened (salted, or unsalted & 1/2 tsp. salt)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup golden corn syrup
Additional butter or non-stick spray for cookie sheets. Paper towel to grease sheets.
Tools & Equipment:
You will need 2 large mixing bowls
Electric mixer and beaters (I use a $15 hand mixer)
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula (to scrape sides of bowl)
Cookie Sheets (2 is preferred, but one is fine as long as you allow it to cool between batches)
Cookie Cutter(s) (or a small round glass or container to cut out simple round shapes)
Spatula or cake server (or a simple butter spreader to transfer cookies)
Oven Mitts or Pot holders
Wire Rack (to cool cookies) or a cool paper towel lined pan.
Optional Items (used in tips)
Wax Paper & packing tape
Tip 1: For successful rolling of dough, keep your rolling pin in the freezer!
Hard-Set Icing Recipe & Decorating Tips Follow the Gingerbread Cookie Recipe!
Step 2: Making the Gingerbread Cookies
In a bowl, mix your dry ingredients together and set aside.
In another large bowl beat your butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in corn syrup and egg. Beat until smooth.
Add dry ingredients, 1/3 at a time, mixing well with every addition.
Transfer dough to plastic wrap and gather into a firm ball.
Refrigerate for 30 mins.
Tip 2: While you wait for your dough to chill take this opportunity to clean up or make yourself some tea or hot chocolate while you wait.
Step 3: Rolling Out Your Gingerbread Cookies
Remove your dough from the fridge and preheat your oven to 375°F
Unwrap your dough and cut 1/3 of the ball. Rewrap and return the remaining 2/3 into the fridge to keep chilled.
Grease your cookie sheet(s) with butter, margarine or non-stick cooking spray. Spread evenly with paper towel. Set aside.
If you used my tip, take your rolling pin out of the freezer. (A chilled rolling pin aids in keeping your dough well chilled).
Tip 3: Take waxed paper & packing tape and secure a large square area to your work table (about 3 feet square). Wax paper helps you to use less flour for rolling, the tape will keep it secure, and this tip makes clean up super fast and easy!
Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Place the 1/3 dough and flatten slightly. Use your rolling pin and roll dough out in alternating directions without forcing the dough too much. It only takes a few minutes to roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick. (Depending on your preference.)
Tip 4: If you use disposable wooden skewers, they measure approximately 1/4 inch thick. Place them on either side of where you are rolling your dough. As the rolling pin goes over the skewers, your dough will be no less than 1/4 inch thick.
Once your dough is evenly rolled out, take your cookie cutter and begin cutting your shapes from the dough. If you find your cutters are sticking, simply dip your cutter in flour prior to use.
After cutting out your shapes, carefully remove the surrounding "scraps" and then lift each cookie gently with a spatula type tool and transfer to greased cookie sheet. Leave approximately 1/2 inch space between cookies and edges of cookie sheet.
Gather your dough scraps and add to another 1/3 of the refrigerated dough. Refrigerate remaining 1/3. Work the scraps into the dough for a minute and then repeat steps above to roll out additional shapes. Then use the remaining 1/3 dough with the remaining scraps and roll out your last cookies.
Once your cookie sheet is full, place in preheated oven and bake for 7 minutes. (You don't want to over brown your cookies).
If you have a second cookie sheet, grease it and fill with more cookie dough and bake. If you only have one cookie sheet, allow it to cool to room temperature before adding more cookie shapes. DO NOT place cut cookie dough onto a hot cookie sheet.
After 7 minutes, remove cookie sheet from oven and place on stove. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for about 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Step 4: Gingerbread Cookies
Congratulations! You have just made a batch of beautiful aromatic cookies that are sure to be a hit with family and friends.
If you followed my earlier tip and lined your work surface with waxed paper, you'll find clean up is a breeze! Just pull the tape from one end and gather up your waxed paper into a ball (keeping all the mess inside). Now just toss into the trash. Wasn't that easy?
If you would like to learn how to make these cookies extra special and decorate them with icing, read on and get my bonus recipe!
Step 5: Bonus Recipe: Hard-Set Icing
For this hard-set Icing Recipe you will need:
3 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites (or use 2 large egg whites)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/2 - 3 cups icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
Additional Tools and Optional Ingredients:
Piping bag & narrow piping tip*
Electric Mixer & Beaters
Small bowl and spoon
Food Coloring (Gel colorant is preferred).
Decorative sugars and dragées
Tip 5: * If you don't have a piping bag and tip, you can simply use a clean resealable bag and cut a small amount of one corner to make a narrow tip for piping.
Mix the Icing:
In a mixing bowl, add your egg whites and lemon juice. Beat slightly to combine. Add your Icing Sugar a little at a time until well mixed and creamy. Your mixture should be thick enough that it will not run when piped on cookies, but not so thick that you can't squeeze it through a piping bag. Transfer icing to piping bag. Cover any unused icing as it will dry hard if left uncovered.
If you want to color some of your icing, add a small amount of gel (or liquid) food coloring to a portion of your icing sugar. Mix with your mixer until the desired shade is achieved. Transfer colored icing to piping bag. Cover any unused icing.
Step 6: Decorating Your Gingerbread Cookies
Before the icing dries, you can add small silver or colored dragées, sprinkles or sugar crystals to your cookies.
Tip 6: If you do make a "mistake", use a toothpick to clean up the areas you are unhappy with.
How to "Flood Fill" Cookies:
If you want to "flood fill" some of your cookies, outline the edges with your icing. Then take a small bowl and add some of the icing mixture with a small amount (1/2 tsp at a time) of water until a slightly thinner consistency is achieved. Don't over thin your icing!
Now spoon a small amount onto the cookie (remember its easier to add more than take away some) and spread with a toothpick.
Once the area is "flood filled" you can either:
Tip 7: For the best results, keep within a simple theme. Its too easy to get carried away with ideas, so stick with only a couple colors and techniques for the most unified look.
Once you cookies are decorated, carefully transfer to wax paper and allow to dry for at least 4-5 hours (to ensure they are hard set) before stacking.
I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!
I would very much like to see your creations and read your comments, so feel free to share what you have made and tell me what you think about this recipe!
If you think this is a winning recipe for the Instructables Cookie Challenge, then please give me a vote.