3 cheers for the smell of baking ginger and molasses in your house and a gorgeous plate of gingerbread cookies to share with your neighbors and friends. To me, holiday cookie decorating is all about the kids, so I searched to find a recipe that gave me all the gingerbread flavor I wanted, but not quite as much bite as the most traditional cookies so little kids wouldn’t complain that they are “too spicey” as my 3 year old put it last year. These ones are called “light spice” but they are HEAVY on delicious holiday flavor and with some bright and festive royal icing they tasted like everything that rules about Christmas. I hope you enjoy!
For the Cookies:
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Icing:
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites*
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- food dye (I enjoy the gel kind to keep your consistency, but liquid dye will work) and whatever sprinkles you like
- For the cookies: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.
- Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.
- Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.
- Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies 1/8″ to 1/4″inch thick. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.
- Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.
- Transfer the cookies to ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- For the icing: In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites tiny pinch of salt and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. I split mine into multiple colors by mixing them in dixie cups and piping them with disposable piping bags. *Royal icing does contain raw eggs, I’ve never had a problem with this, my husband worked for a huge egg distributor for 5 years and as long as they are pasteurized and not super old, you are likely to be fine, but if you have a crazy sensitive stomach there are other icings you can find.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour light spice holiday cookies and Alton Brown Royal Icing Recipe.