Make these delicious iced gingerbread cookies recipe for Christmas, decorated with royal icing and perfectly spiced with gingerbread and molasses flavor. They are absolutely delicious, tender on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside, the perfect gift for Christmas.
These are definitely my favorite gingerbread cookies, to put at the very top of the holiday cookie list, no one can resist its warm spicy flavor and its soft texture on the inside and crisp edges.
Why you'll love these cookies
If you love the flavor of gingerbread and all Christmas sugar cookies that are made during this festive season and during the Christmas holidays, then you won't be able to resist this delicious recipe for iced gingerbread cookies recipe.
Very similar to the Christmas sugar cookie, but made here with a brown cookie dough flavored with brown sugar and a spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves that gives it that delicious gingerbread flavor.
And beautifully decorated with homemade sugar icing, they are perfect for having fun decorating with kids during the Christmas break and to give as gifts to teachers, loved ones or just to enjoy with the family.
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*You will find the quantities and complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of the page.
- Butter: use only unsalted butter instead of salted butter with a well-softened texture, if you don't have time to take it out in advance then heat it a little in the microwave.
- Sugar: a flavored sugar preferably like dark brown sugar, which you can substitute with light brown sugar, cane sugar or simple white granulated sugar.
- Egg: at room temperature.
- Molasses: essential for the gingerbread flavor, you can replace the blackstrap molasses with a mixture of honey and maple syrup.
- Flour: white all-purpose flour that you can replace with a gluten-free flour mix for a gluten-free version.
- Spices: a ready-made gingerbread mix, or use ground cinnamon, ground ginger or fresh grated ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
- Yeast: essential for soft cookies, baking soda or baking powder.
- Vanilla extract and salt: to bring out all the flavours. You can also add lemon or orange zest for extra flavor.
- Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar): Powdered sugar, also called icing or confectioner's sugar, is finely ground from granulated sugar. It's used for making icing, frosting, and glazes, providing a smooth texture for easy dissolvability.
- Water: Water plays a crucial role in creating icing sugar glazes and royal icing. It's added in small amounts to powdered sugar to control icing consistency for drizzling, spreading, or piping onto baked goods. Gradually adding and mixing water achieves the desired texture and glossy finish.
How to Make Christmas Gingerbread Cookies
Mix the dry ingredients
- Place flour, spices, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda (or baking powder) and salt in a medium sized bowl.
- Mix with a tablespoon until well blended.
Cream butter and sugar
- Place the softened butter with the brown sugar in a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted paddle attachment.
- Blend on medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes until creamy.
- Then add the room temperature egg and vanilla extract and molasses and blend again for 1 minute to incorporate.
Add dry ingredients
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients mixture and beat with a mixer just until completely combined.
- Gather the dough with your hands until the dough forms a slightly sticky dough ball.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour (if you have time prepare the dough the day before).
- Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 3 mm.
- With your cookie cutter, cut out shapes on the dough and place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or in silicone baking mats
- Preheat oven to 347°C / 175°C and let the cookies bake for about 8-10 minutes depending on size until they are a little puffy and golden.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool a bit before moving them to a wire rack and letting them cool completely.
Royal icing decoration
To decorate your cookies, prepare your homemade royal icing, it's easy to do and you only need 2 ingredients powdered sugar and water.
- Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the water and mix with for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and fluid.
- Add a little water if the texture seems too thick or add a little powdered sugar to thicken it.
- Fill a pastry bag and cut the tip to make a small opening.
- Decorate your baked cookies when they are cool and sprinkle them with granulated sugar.
- Let decorated cookies dry at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Storage and Freeze
At room temperature: the cookies can only be stored at room temperature, placed in an airtight container box for about 1 to 2 weeks.
In the freezer: You can also keep them for up to 3 months in the freezer, in storage bags or in a box and without the sugar glaze.
Tips for this recipe
- Double Sifting: Sift the dry ingredients twice through a sieve to ensure a homogeneous mixture, resulting in smoother cookie dough.
- Avoid Overcooking: Be cautious not to overcook the cookies, as this can result in a dry texture. The cookies should still be slightly soft when taken out of the oven and will firm up a bit as they cool.
- Chilled Dough for Precise Cuts: For perfect and precise cookie cuts, place the cookie dough in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will keep the dough firm and prevent it from deforming while you handle it.
- Quick Rolling Method: To expedite the process, roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper immediately and then place it in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting out the shapes. This method saves time and ensures the dough remains easy to work with.
- Royal Icing Consistency: When making royal icing for decorating, achieve the right consistency by adding water or powdered sugar as needed. For outlining, the icing should be thicker, while for filling, it should be slightly thinner.
Recipe Variations and Substitute
- Lemon Zest Gingerbread: Add lemon zest to the cookie dough for a citrusy twist on traditional gingerbread.
- Orange Spice Gingerbread: Infuse orange zest and a hint of orange extract into the dough for a zesty flavor.
- Nutty Gingerbread: Incorporate finely chopped nuts, such as almonds or pecans, into the dough for added texture and nutty richness.
- Chocolate Drizzle: After icing, drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies for a delightful chocolatey contrast.
- Fruit-Filled Thumbprints: Make thumbprint cookies by pressing your thumb into each cookie and filling the indentations with jam or preserves of your choice.
- Stuffed Gingerbread Sandwiches: Create sandwich cookies by pairing two gingerbread cookies with a filling of ganache, marshmallow fluff, or cream cheese frosting.
- Molasses Substitute: If you don't have dark molasses on hand, you can replace it with a mixture of honey and maple syrup. This substitution will yield softer cookies while maintaining the desired flavor.
- Frosted gingerbread cookies: Frost the gingerbread cookies with a layer of icing or cream cheese frosting, allow it to set, and then add a second layer of colorful icing for a delightful visual appeal.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make gingerbread cookie dough ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the gingerbread cookie dough ahead of time. Simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a few days before rolling and baking.
Does gingerbread harden when cooled?
When removed from the oven, the gingerbread cookies should be soft and as they cool they harden a bit.
Can I make gingerbread cookies without molasses?
While molasses is a traditional ingredient in gingerbread cookies, you can substitute it with a mixture of honey and maple syrup for a slightly different flavor and texture.
How do I prevent my gingerbread cookies from spreading too much during baking?
To prevent excessive spreading, make sure the dough is properly chilled before cutting and baking. Additionally, using a recipe with a higher flour-to-butter ratio can help maintain cookie shape.
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