Last Christmas I went a little crazy with gingerbread cookies. I made hundreds of gingerbread men, women, stars, bells and other cut-out shapes. I spend hours rolling, cutting, transferring, baking, cooling and frosting. You don't have to go so crazy with your cookies, although when you try this recipe, you might just be similarly inspired. The great thing about this dough is that you can keep it in the fridge for several days, so you don't have roll and cut it all in a single afternoon. This is also a terrific recipe if you have kids or want to have a cookie party.
For the frosting, I tend to just mix up powdered sugar, a drop of vanilla and some water into a semi-viscous state and dip the tops of the cookies straight into the frosting. They end up looking really pretty and are so delicious! Just remember that if you frost them that way you need to wait until they are totally dry before stacking them or your perfect cookies will adhere together into solid stacks. Which can be a bit disappointing (I speak from experience here).
adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup butter
7 cups all purpose flour (I tend to do half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour, just to make them a *tiny* bit healthier)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger (sometimes I use fresh grated ginger, which gives them a nice punch)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix molasses, sugar, water and butter together (if you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend using it, as this dough gets really stiff). Stiff all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and add it to the wet ingredients in batches. Mix well. When dough is incorporated, form it into a ball or disc, wrap it in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours (although I kept it up to a week with no ill effects). Roll, cut out and bake on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet (you can use a single sheet of parchment for multiple batches) at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Frost anyway you like or leave them plain. If you're making gingerbread people and want to give them eyes/noses/buttons, you can decorate the cookies with red hots or other cookie decorating novelties prior to baking.
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