Happy Holidays, everybody! I know that this is the most hectic time of year, but thankfully, I have the day off, so I’m doing quite well! Sorry to rub it in. My brothers just left the other day, so Kramer and I are back to normal, staying at home and trying to keep warm! It was great having them here, though. Visitors always make us get out of the house and enjoy the city that we live in. Since I work in Midtown Manhattan, it’s all to easy to want to curl up in my apartment like a hermit and avoid the city on the evenings and weekends, especially this time of year. I have to walk through Rockefeller Center every day to get to the subway, and with the tree up, it takes a while to make my way through the enormous crowd. Anyway, I wanted to tell you about my time with my brothers! We did just about everything, I can’t even remember it all. We went to the Top of The Rock because the doormen in my building can get us free tickets, so we had a great view of Manhattan at night. We went to The Guggenheim, which Kramer and I had never done before and we really enjoyed it. I love the building itself, as I’m sure everyone does. We stopped by The Jewish Museum after The Guggenheim, because they have a really cool Houdini exhibit at the moment. I loved it, it might be one of my favorite museums now. We also made sure to eat lots of the great food that New York has to offer! We stopped by the Waffles and Dinges stand at the Union Square Christmas Market for some waffles with gingerbread spread (otherwise known as Spekuloos), ate at Le Barricou, brunched at Traif, got great Chinese food at Wo-Hop, checked out the new Little Cheese Pub, and more! I’m sad that they’re gone, and I hope that they can come back out in early June when it is beautiful here in New York and sweltering in Phoenix, where they live.
Now, everybody needs a good gingerbread cookie recipe, but until now, I really didn’t have one. I’m always worried about cut-out cookies are going to be too hard. I don’t like crispy cookies and I can’t understand why anybody does. If I want something crispy, I’ll get fried food or some brittle. Otherwise, I want my baked goods to be soft, chewy, and tender. That’s why I made these chewy gingerbread cookies. They are absolutely perfect, in my opinion, and I don’t think I’ll ever need to worry about finding a better recipe. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I got more compliments on this gingerbread recipe than anything else that I have brought into the office. The reason that they are shaped like owls is because of all of the owl art in my company’s offices, and I wanted to celebrate the hard work everyone’s done this year with themed cookies! I added some crystallized ginger to these, as well, and while it’s not completely necessary, it adds an element of surprise and makes the gingerbread really pop. This was my first time decorating sugar cookies with real royal icing, too, and believe me, it was a learning experience. I didn’t have any meringue or egg white powder, which is what most recipes call for, but I found a European version that uses egg whites, since apparently egg white powder isn’t readily available in most of Europe. The frosting was perfect and hardened enough for me to try flooding a few of these cookies (although they weren’t as even as I’d like – that’s why we practice, though, right?). It was a lot of fun to make these, and even more fun to eat them! I froze a bunch for Kramer and I to enjoy throughout the holidays, and they really do freeze wonderfully, staying chewy even after having been frozen for a week. If you are looking for the perfect chewy gingerbread cookie that you can roll out and cut into shapes, then this, my friends, is the cookie for you.
Your cookie ingredients.
Beat your butter until light and fluffy, then add in the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add in the molasses, beat until well combined, then add in the egg, and beat until well combined.
Combine your flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
Gradually add in the flour mixture until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
Mince your ginger and fold it into the batter.
Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
After your dough has been chilled, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and generously flour your work surface, your rolling pin, and your hands. Roll out half of your dough to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut out into shapes and place on a greased and/or lined baking sheet.
I did gingerbread men and gingerbread owls.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Beat together your egg whites, lemon juice, and clear vanilla extract (if using), then add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time until you have your desired consistency.
These were the first cookies I ever frosted and flooded. Not bad for my first time!
And these were my owls! It took me about an hour to frost all of these and the gingerbread men, not counting a few “testers” (AKA mistakes).
These truly are the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever tasted; chewy and full of flavor. Happy Holidays!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced (don't pack the ginger into, a light or "barely there" ¼ cup is sufficient)
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- clear vanilla extract (optional - available at most crafting/baking shops)
- 5-7 cups confectioners sugar
- water, as necessary
- Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add in the molasses and beat until well combined. Beat in the egg until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Whisk until combined, then gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, a bit at a time, mixing until well combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you work.
- Mince the ginger and fold it into the dough. Carefully wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The dough is pretty sticky at this point, so I found it easiest to lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and dump the dough directly onto that from the bowl instead of handling it too much with my hands.
- After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously flour your work surface, then take half of your dough and place it down. Generously flour your hands and your rolling pin, then roll the dough out to your desired thickness (mine was about half an inch thick). Carefully move the cookies to a lined and/or greased baking sheet (I used foil and sprayed it with Pam), and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies have risen (I like to err on the side of caution and take them out when they seem just barely done, as they will keep cooking on the hot baking sheet for a few minutes after I have removed them from the oven). Allow to cool completely before moving to another surface to decorate. Makes 30-35 cookies.
- Using a mixer, beat together the egg whites, lemon juice, and vanilla (if using) for a few minutes until frothy. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating at medium-high speed, until the icing forms stiff peaks (you may not need all of your powdered sugar). I think I used about 5 or 6 cups of powdered sugar. If your icing gets too stiff, just add in some water and beat until you have your desired consistency. If your icing is not firm enough, add more powdered sugar. When your icing has stiff peaks, it is ready to pipe and can be used to outline your cookies. Makes enough icing to frost about 30-35 cookies.
- If you want to "flood" your cookies, outline them and allow the icing to harden. Then, place some of your icing in another bowl and add water, whisking until you have a more liquid consistency. You WILL need a squeeze bottle or something similar to put the flooding icing in, then squeeze it inside the lines of the cookies and spread it out a bit with a toothpick to make it even. Allow to dry for at least 2 hours before topping with additional decorations.