Gingerbread cookies

   Growing up, we didn’t make gingerbread cookies.  In fact, until last year, I had never even tasted gingerbread cookies.  Not that we were treatless at Christmas, we just didn’t do gingerbread.

My Mom would make those cookies – sugar cookies, I guess? – that you put in a tube and pressed out through plates to make holiday shapes.  Dad loved those – we would sprinkle colored sanding sugars on them.  To me, the dough was way better than the baked cookie.  I am a dough kinda gal – I don’t really like hard foods.  Store bought cookies? Not my thing.  Come to think of it, it’s weird. I would never bake cookies here at home then bag them up and let them sit around for a month or so before eating them…and that’s precisely what you get from packages cookies.  Well, except for Oreos. I have no intention of making my own Oreos.  Have you tried the holiday minty Oreos? Yum. They taste like a gooier version of Thin Mints, and that equals delish.  I crushed some up in the food processor and added it to a mousse filling for a birthday cake last week, and that was SO GOOD.

But back to gingerbread.  When I went up to New York to the Martha Show last month, my friend Gail, aka The Tough Cookie, brought me a gingerbread cookie shaped like a piece of pie.  It was beyond tasty. So, I begged her for her recipe and she kindly surrendered.  But me being me? I changed it up a little and made it mine.  It is so easy to put together, perhaps the easiest cookie dough I have ever made. And it’s quick, and it involves very little hands on time.

Gingerbread CookiesDSC04241

makes 5-6 dozen cookies

5 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
20 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
3-4 tablespoons milk

1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda at low speed until combined, add butter and mix at medium-low speed until mixture for about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add molasses and milk until dough is evenly moistened then ncrease speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined.

2. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in thirds. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/8-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 20-30 minutes.  Dough can be left in the freezer if contained in plastic freezer bags for up to a month.

3. When ready to use, preheat oven to 325. Wait until oven is to temperature before getting dough from freezer.  Use cookie cutters to make desired shapes, and carefully transfer cookies to lined baking sheet or SilPat. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not overbake or cookies will be too hard. (But still okay for making a gingerbread house!)

4. When cookies have cooled, decorate with royal icing, if desired.

Here are a few things that would make this process a little easier on you!

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