My mom makes the best gingerbread cookies. Gingerbread cookies are often too hard or crunchy, but hers are soft and chewy. I used her recipe, but swapped out the margarine for butter. The key to this recipe is to make the dough in advance and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours (I refrigerated my dough overnight). It is necessary to refrigerate it for several reasons: To allow the gluten to rest to prevent a "gluey" texture, to allow the butter to firm up in the dough (this recipe has no eggs to hold it together), and to prevent the dough from spreading too much in the oven (which maintains the cookie cutter shape).
For Christmas, I purchased this tiny gingerbread house cutter from amazon.ca, because they are so adorable! I wanted to make a gingerbread house, but gingerbread houses are difficult to store to keep them fresh, and no one wants to be the first person to dive in and break the house to start eating. These tiny teacup gingerbread houses means everyone gets their very own house! They are a little extra work, but everyone loved them.
I used Alton Brown's royal icing recipe to make the icing for the Christmas cookies.
If you have a stand mixer, you can put all the ingredients in there, starting with the wet ingredients, followed by the spices, flour and baking soda.
Note: My mom's recipe says to bake these at 375°F, but my oven runs hot, so I usually have to adjust the temperature when I bake. I baked mine at 350°F for 8min30s for the tray of the small ghosts and medium bats, and 9 minutes for the large pumpkins. The recipe made three baking sheets worth of cookies in various sizes, so the yield is a little hard to determine, but it was around 30 large cookies, or 48 small/medium cookies.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp all spice
Optional decorations before baking: Dark chocolate chips or peanut butter chips
Optional decorations after baking: Royal icing for piping, Smarties, Reese's Pieces
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Blend in molasses and maple syrup.
In a second bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Add dry ingredients and water to creamed mixture. Knead well until blended and form into a smooth ball. Cover and chill for at least 2 to 3 hours (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 350°F (see note above). Lightly flour work surface, rolling pin and hands. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Press chocolate chips or peanut butter chips in if desired.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes (8min30s is perfect for my oven). Allow to cool fully, then decorate with icing (optional).
Nutrition (based on the medium cookie, the bat)
Saturated fat 2.0g