Can you get more classic than a gingerbread cookie at Christmas? There's something festive about the rich spices and dark molasses in these delightful cookies that everyone always loves. These delightfully tasty treats are made into beautiful ornaments that you can eat or hang on your tree.
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How to Make
Gather the ingredients for the dough. You'll need all-purpose flour, brown sugar, unsalted butter, molasses, an egg, coffee, baking soda, and spices.
- Whisk together the flour, spices, and baking soda until well mixed.
- Beat the softened butter and light brown sugar with a mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute on medium-high speed.
3. Pour in the molasses, coffee, and egg. Be sure to add a few spoonfuls of the flour along with these wet ingredients to prevent the batter from curdling.
4. Mix in the remaining flour mixture in three additions. Be sure to have the mixer on low speed, and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to get an even mix.
5. Divide the dough into three discs and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
6. Roll the dough between two pieces of floured parchment paper to prevent it from sticking to the work surface or the rolling pin.
7. Cut out the cookies with your desired cookie cutters and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Be sure to space the cookies apart, as they will puff up in the oven.
If you're making these into ornaments, be sure to punch a hole in each cookie with a straw. Make the hole bigger than you think it needs to be, as it will shrink when the cookies grow in the oven.
8. Bake one pan at a time at 350 F until the edges are set and slightly darkened, about 10 minutes per tray.
Meanwhile, sift some icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Stir in enough water to create a thick but pipeable icing.
9. Spoon the icing into the corner of a plastic sandwich bag, twist the top, and snip a little bit of the corner to create a mini piping bag. Decorate the cookies as desired with the white icing.
10. Let the icing set for at least 15 minutes before eating, or at least 1 hour before using as an ornament.
Should gingerbread cookies be hard or soft?
If you're making them into ornaments, they should be hard. This will give them more support when they're hanging on the Christmas tree. If you're baking them just to eat, you can make them hard or soft, whichever is your preference.
How do you know when they are done?
Gingerbread is baked when the edges are set. For a crisper cookie, make sure you can see a slight darkening around the edges. Watch out for dark brown edges or bottoms; that means that the cookie is burnt.
Will they harden as they cool?
Yes, gingerbread hardens quite a bit as it cools. Even well-baked gingerbread is soft when it comes out of the oven, so be careful not to overbake the gingerbread.
How long do gingerbread cookies last?
They will last for up to a couple of weeks. If you're using them just for eating, keep them sealed in a metal cookie tin to keep them crisp. You can also freeze them for up to 1 month.
How do you keep them fresh?
You'll need to keep them covered and in a cool, dry place. If you're using these as ornaments but plan to eat them a few weeks later, keep in mind that they will not taste as fresh. (Here's more storage tips for gingerbread.)
Do not put other cookies in the same tin with the gingerbread. Gingerbread can absorb flavors and odors, and will also soften in the presence of soft or chewy cookies.
- For crisp gingerbread, like these ornaments, layer them in a metal cookie tin for up to a week. Separate layers of decorated cookies with a piece of wax paper or parchment.
- For soft gingerbread, layer them in a plastic container or on a plate tightly covered with plastic wrap. Separate the layers with wax paper or parchment.
Do gingerbread cookies freeze well?
Yes, it does freeze very well and can be frozen for up to 1 month. I'd recommend freezing these cookies before they're decorated, because the icing may get damaged from bumping against other cookies. Thaw at room temperature for at least half an hour before decorating.
Tying the Ornaments
- Be sure to make a large hole in the cookie with a straw before it's baked.
- After the cookie is baked and cooled, decorate it as desired with icing.
- Once the icing has set, make the hole in the cookie larger with a metal skewer if needed.
- Thread a piece of ribbon, string, or yarn through the hole and tie tightly.
- Hang the ornament on your tree or garlands as a decoration.
- Don't overmix the cookie dough, or it will be tough. Mix long enough to make sure the ingredients are well combined, then stop.
- Is your cookie dough super sticky? Mix in an additional ¼ to ½ cup of flour (30-60g).
- Chill the cookie dough for at least 1 hour. Otherwise, the dough will be far too sticky to roll out.
- Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment. This will keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or work surface.
- Be careful not to underbake. They do need to be crispy and not soft and bendy. The edges should be set and slightly darkened.
- Make ahead of time. Freeze the undecorated cookies, thaw, decorate, and use as ornaments.
- Set of 3 Whisks: these sturdy whisks don't bend out of shape easily.
- Wooden Rolling Pin: you'll be rolling out cookies fast with this pin.
- 11x17-Inch Cookie Sheet: these light-colored trays bake evenly.
- Parchment Paper: keep your cookie dough from sticking with this paper.
Other Christmas Recipes You'll Enjoy
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Edible Gingerbread Cookie Ornaments
For the Cookie Dough
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- ⅔ cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons strong coffee, cooled
For the Icing
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon cold water
Making the Cookie Dough (30 min + 1 hr chilling)
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices and set aside.
- Put the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg, molasses, coffee, and two large spoonfuls of the flour mixture and beat until well blended.
- Mix in the flour on medium-low speed in three additions, being careful to blend all the ingredients thoroughly without overmixing.
- Split the dough into three equal discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour.
Rolling & Cutting (45 min)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two 11 by 17-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut two large pieces of parchment paper and lay them on a clean work surface. Dust one with flour.
- Unwrap one of the dough disks, leaving the others in the fridge. Place it on the floured parchment and put the other piece of parchment on top. Roll out the gingerbread dough to about ⅛ inch thick and cut out the cookies with a cutter or paper template.
- Transfer them to the prepared trays and repeat with the remaining dough. You will probably have enough to fill about 4 trays, so just reuse the 2 trays after the cookies have baked.
Baking (10 min per tray)
- Bake each tray one at a time in a 350 F oven for 10-15 minutes. For crisp cookies, they should be set in the middle and firm around the edges with only a hint of darkening around the edges. For soft cookies, bake until the edges are set, but not browned. Keep in mind that they will harden up as they cool.
- Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Decorating (30 min)
- Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and gradually stir the filtered water a few drops at a time, until the icing is a thick but pipeable consistency.
- Spoon the icing into the corner of a plastic sandwich bag, twist the top, and snip off the corner to make a piping bag. Pipe the icing on as desired, and let it harden for 15 minutes before eating.
- If making into ornaments, let the icing harden for a few hours. If necessary, enlarge the hole in the cookie with a metal skewer before threading a ribbon, string, or yarn through. Hang the ornaments on your tree or garlands.
- Handle the dough gently. Mix it well enough to combine the ingredients, then stop.
- Sticky dough? Mix in an additional ¼ to ½ cup of flour (30-60g).
- Roll it out between two pieces of parchment. This will keep the dough from sticking.
- Be careful not to underbake. They will be done when the edges are slightly darkened.
- Make ahead. Freeze the undecorated cookies, thaw, decorate, and use as ornaments.
This recipe was originally published on December 22, 2017.