Growing up with a mom who was raised by European parents, gingerbread was a big part of our Christmas celebration. Every December, we made gingerbread houses and spent hours baking and decorating dozens of homemade gingerbread cookies. We kept plenty for ourselves and shared the rest with the neighbors. When I married Mr. Handsome, I was saddened to discover that gingerbread wasn’t a part of his family’s holiday traditions. After all, who can resist a perfectly baked gingerbread cookie?
I really want our children to grow up enjoying gingerbread as much as I do, so I have kept the traditional alive and well by making gingerbread cookies every year. (We also make sugar cookies, since those are Mr. Handsome’s favorite.)
This year, I told myself at Thanksgiving that I wasn’t going to do any holiday baking, both because I am trying to eat healthy for the baby’s sake and because I’m about ready to pop. But when I was at the store last week and walked past the molasses and mini M&M’s, I just couldn’t take it. I had to make gingerbread cookies. It was a tiring process but completely worth the effort.
For those who love gingerbread as much as I do (or maybe you haven’t ever tried it–gasp!), my gingerbread and royal icing recipes are below. What’s your favorite type of Christmas cookie?
Old-Fashioned Soft Gingerbread Cookies
- 1 1/2 cup dark molasses 1-12 ounce jar
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2/3 cup water, room temperature
- 1/3 cup butter, soft
- 6-1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
Mix molasses, brown sugar, water, and butter until smooth.
Sift remaining ingredients, and add to molasses mixture, using a fork to stir. (You might need to use your hands towards the end, as the dough becomes heavy)
Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
Remove dough from refrigerator, and roll 1/4 inch thick onto wax paper or floured surface. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. (If your rolling pin and/or cookie cutters are sticking to the dough, lightly flour them.)
Place cookies 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Cookies should be soft to the touch when you remove them from the oven.
Place cookies on cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
The amount of cookies that this recipe makes varies greatly, depending on the size of the cookie cutters used. If small/medium cookie cutters are used (as shown in photo, which shows cookies sitting on a standard sized cookie sheet) recipe will make 4-6 dozen cookies. If large/x-large cookie cutters are used, recipe will make 2-3 dozen cookies.
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites (liquid pasteurized eggs whites)
- 2-6 Tbsp lemon juice
- Food coloring (optional)
Beat powdered sugar and egg whites with a hand mixer or standup mixer, until glossy.
Slowly add lemon juice, and beat until icing is glossy and stiff. Add food coloring if desired.
When using royal icing to decorate cookies, allow decorated cookies to set overnight on a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap. Icing will harden within 12-24 hours, and then cookies can be stacked in containers.