“Cut! It! Out!”
Please tell me you read that in Joey Gladstone’s voice. If you didn’t and don’t know who Joey Gladstone is, I’ve completely dated myself and would like to crawl under a rock now. Nothing like feeling old at the ripe age of 24!
Unlike the national treasure that is Full House, these cut-out cookies aren’t over-the-top sweet. They’re the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. And if I had to make another Full House reference, I would tell you these gingies are very Jessie and Rebecca: little rock-n-roll (cinnamon, cloves, ginger) and a little Wake Up San Francisco (i.e., sweet from the molasses, brown sugar, and royal icing).
But the biggest draw to these cookies? No, not the Full House nostalgia. It’s that they HOLD THEIR SHAPE. Sorry for screaming. But the fact that they keep the shape their cookie cutter intended for them is a big deal (at least for me it is. My world is quite small sometimes.). During holidays of yesteryear when I would make gingerbread cut-outs just to have them expand and lose their shape in the oven was incredibly frustrating (“Whatever happened to predictability?”). My snowflakes looked like flowers. My gingerbread men looked very blob-ish. Finally, my recipe’s been perfected so that these cookies hardly expand in the oven and maintain their crisp, cookie cutter lines.
Now wait. Before you get skeptical, like you I’ve also read recipes that advertise cut-out cookies that keep their shape. I gave a few of them a shot and yeah, they kept their shape. However, they were flavorless and Tough. Capital T Tough. But these babies are perfect (every mom thinks their children are perfect, but my cookie babies actually are 😉 ). They’re a bit puffy and pillowy; their edges are slightly crisp. Have mercy! (Please allow me just this last Full House reference.)
And even though it’s only mid-August, I hope you’ll at least think about trying this recipe out when it’s a more appropriate time for gingerbread. (Yes, I’m one of those people who get way too excited about fall [and Christmas] way too early. But fall and its flavors and colors make me happy, so #sorrynotsorry.) Regardless of when you make them, let me know how it goes! I hope these cookies make you happy 🙂
Molly, the girl guilty of perpetuating the holiday creep
Fact: I actually squealed when I finished piping the frosting on the gingerbread man in the larger picture. He’s just so cute!
- 3 c all-purpose flour + about 1/4 c for the working surface
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbs ground ginger
- 1 ¾ ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 6 tbs softened, unsalted butter
- can substitute salted but omit ¼ tsp salt if you choose to do so)
- ¾ c brown sugar (dark preferred for more intense molasses flavor)
- 1 large egg
- ½ c molasses
- 2 tsp vanilla
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
- In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg until well blended.
- I like to use the paddle attachment on my KitchenAid mixer for this.
- Drizzle in molasses and vanilla to butter mixture until well blended.
- Slowly, add dry ingredients to the wet until well-incorporated.
- Divide dough in half and wrap each half in cling wrap. Let sit at room temperature for a minimum of two hours and up to eight hours
- About 10 minutes before rolling I like to pop the dough into the freezer so it’s easier to handle; totally optional though.
- Can store dough in the fridge for up to 4 days (if wrapped well). Let dough come to room temperature before handling.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- If you don’t parchment, grease pans with non-stick spray but be aware that baking times and temps may need to be altered.
- Sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Rub flour on rolling-pin and spread one dough half out so that it is about ¼ of an inch thick. Cut out with floured cookie cutters. Sprinkle your work surface with flour again and re-roll the dough scraps.
- You can usually get away with re-rolling the dough twice before noticing a change in cookie toughness.
- Space cookies about 1 ½ inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes.
- Rotate pans halfway through baking.
- Remove cookies from oven. Let them stand for a couple of minutes before transitioning to a cooling rack.
- Cool completely before decorating.
Royal Icing: makes about 4 cups
1 lb powdered sugar
2 large egg whites*
½ c water
- In a large bowl, mix sugar and whites together until well combined.
- I prefer to use my stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Slowly, gradually add water to the egg-sugar mixture. Continue adding water until frosting is to desired thickness. Add food coloring, if desired.
- About ¼ c is good for thick piping lines for outlining and detail work.
- The closer to ½ c of water used is a better consistency for flooding cookies.
- Keep it simple: I use a gallon zip-loc bag to pipe the frosting. Just snip off a corner and you’re good to go!
- Let frosted cookies stand for ~1 hour before checking to see if frosting has set up.