Do you make gingerbread cookies every year?? I wish I did, but… I think I must forget from year to year that they are about the simplest dough to throw together, that they bake up in about 15 minutes, and that the clean up is basically one bowl. Also…they are delicious.
And yet, I procrastinate.
Perhaps it’s because I know I’ll want a massive amount of time to decorate them. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to decorate gingerbread cookies. I just don’t like the process of making the royal icing, getting it to the right color and the right consistency. Maybe I don’t like having to dig out a bunch of icing tips, filling 4 or 5 piping bags. But it’s all worth it in the end.
I could sit there for hours (and have!) just coloring, adding dots and designs to otherwise simple gingerbread cookies. It’s cathartic, and if you haven’t done it, I can’t recommend it enough.
Simple Tricks for Gingerbread Cookies Decorating Success
Use Non-Toxic Markers
Go ahead, try it. Then wrap your masterpieces in cello bags and give them to the folks you know will appreciate them. Not only are they beautiful, they are art, and they are also delicious. It’s also not all that difficult. Feel free to use non-toxic markers to decorate with! If a kiddo can put the pen in his mouth and it’s okay, your cookies will be okay. Don’t use a Sharpies hahaha!
Make the Dough in Advance
If you have extra time, I suggest making the gingerbread dough and getting it frozen in advance. You CAN cut everything out that same day, but life happens! Luckily, you can leave this forgiving dough in the freezer for several days with no ill effects (in fact, it cuts even better the more frozen it is), so, you can proceed to finish your cookies when you have the time.
You can make any shape you like, but me? I want to make holidays shapes: snowmen, gingerbread men, ornaments. Seven? Houses. Mittens. Hippopatamus. Camel.
He’s a boy.
I let him win on a couple of those – like the house and mittens. Maybe I’ll make the animals some other time. Maybe.
- 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 cold salted butter cut into pieces
- 1 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
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 for about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add molasses and milk until dough is evenly moistened then increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined.
Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in thirds. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/8 to 1/4 -inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm,45 minutes or more. Dough can be left in the freezer if contained in plastic freezer bags for up to a month.
When ready to use, preheat oven to 325. Wait until oven is to temperature before getting dough from freezer. Remove from parchment paper. 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!)
When cookies have cooled, decorate with royal icing, if desired.
You can find the recipe for royal icing here, and I highly recommend it. It’s practically no fail as long as you follow the instructions, which are simple.