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How to Make Perfect Gingerbread Cookies for Every Occasion, Especially Christmas!

Updated on November 9, 2014
Gingerbread Cookies for Any Occasion
Gingerbread Cookies for Any Occasion | Source

How Long Baking Gingerbread Cookies Takes

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 9 min
Ready in: 1 hour 9 min
Yields: 2 dozen or so - varies with size of cut-out shapes

Make Perfect Gingerbread Cookies for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and More

Making gingerbread cookies in cute and interesting shapes is easy and a lot of fun. Of course, you want a gingerbread cookie to have a moist, chewy inside and a slightly crisp outside. (Unless you are making ginger snaps.) You also want your cookie to hold up well for decorating and for gift-giving. This recipe, with video, will allow you do do just that, so you can make them year round for any occasion.

Even if you have never made gingerbread cookies before, or cut out shape cookies, you will find this hub will help you end up with the perfect cookie every time. If you are baking for Christmas, it is especially nice if you have a tiny tot around to help with the baking. These cookies make great gifts for friends or co-workers. This year, I am giving a card with one cookie to each of my co-workers.

But the fun doesn't stop with Christmas. My best friend's husband LOVES these gingerbread cookies, but she is not much of a baker. On Valentine's Day last year, I went to her house and we baked a batch together, cutting them into shapes such as hearts, guitars, and musical notes (he is a guitar player.) She decorated them with red icing and gave them to him as a Valentine's gift. Gingerbread is a great way to celebrate your love, or any occasion, with something sweet and spicy.

A collection of Cookie Cutters for All Occasions
A collection of Cookie Cutters for All Occasions | Source

Cookie Cutters for Making Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies

Baking cookies is so much fun, I like to do it year round. I make sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies for almost every occasion. Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, the 4th of July, Halloween, and any day in between is a good day to celebrate with cookies, as far as I am concerned.

I make other kinds of cookies, too, but cutting out shapes with cookie dough is far more interesting than just plopping some dough on a baking sheet. In order to facilitate this, I have taken up collecting cookie cutters, and now people even give them to me as gifts!

As shown in the photo, I have quite a few of them now, but I am sure there are many I don't have yet. The more unusual the shape, the better I like them. I even have a guitar, a musical note, a pair of lips and a tombstone. If you have seen any really unusual cookie cutters, I'd like to hear about it in the comments section!

Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies
Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies | Source

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup sugar, white
  • 1/2 Cup sugar, dark brown
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, (ground)
  • 2 Cups flour, (unbleached, plain, GMO-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, (aluminum-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, (ground)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves, (ground)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger, (ground)
  • 2 Tablespoons half and half, (organic)

Getting Ready to Bake Gingerbread Cookies

Before you start baking your gingerbread cookies, make sure you have set aside enough time and have everything you need. Also, be sure there is a clean surface to mix on and to roll out the dough before cutting out the cookies.

You will also want to make sure you have all of your ingredients on hand. Gather all of your ingredients and set them out on the countertop or table before starting.

Be sure you have a rolling pin and some plastic wrap or a ziploc bag on hand, too. And of course, you will need a baking sheet. (Alternately, if you do not have a rolling pin, you can use a large, smooth-sided drinking glass or other cylinder-shaped object. You can always use your hands if worse comes to worse, but it will take a little longer.)

You might also want some powdered sugar or colored cookie icing for decorating your cookies.

Start by Mixing the Butter, Molasses, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Vanilla
Start by Mixing the Butter, Molasses, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Vanilla | Source

Mixing the Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies

Start by melting your butter over a medium heat. Do not skimp and use margarine, it is not good for you and will not give you the same results. Let the melted butter sit a few minutes to cool a little, then put it into your mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla extract. It will take just a few minutes to get the butter incorporated. You will have a nice, dark brown mixture that smells wonderful.


Separate the Yolk of the Egg and Discard the White
Separate the Yolk of the Egg and Discard the White | Source

One Egg Yolk for Gingerbread Cookies

To make the perfect gingerbread cookie, you only want to use one egg yolk. Using more eggs, or egg whites, will give the cookies a more cake-like consistency.

If you have never separated an egg yolk, don't stress, it isn't hard to do. You can find videos on You tube that will help. Simply crack the egg and open carefully, keeping one side down to catch the yolk. Let the white of the egg slither off into a bowl. Using the other half of the eggshell, transfer the yolk and let the rest of the white slide down into the bowl. Voila!

Add the half and half and enjoy!
Add the half and half and enjoy! | Source

Add Half and Half to Your Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Now you have the egg yolk in and it is time to mix in the half and half. Pour it in and stir well. It looks very pretty. Always remember to take the time to enjoy every aspect of your baking experience!

Mixing Flour and Spices for Gingerbread Cookies

The next part of baking your gingerbread is, perhaps, the most delightful. You will measure out your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. The spices smell so delicious, you will imagine being carried off to a far-away land. Cinnamon, cloves, and ginger make the perfect combination for this gingerbread cookie recipe. The recipe is heavy on the ginger, of course, but has just the right amount of cinnamon, and the cloves add that extra zing.

You will notice that the recipe calls for only a very small amount of cloves. You are welcome to add a little more if you dare, but it will make it very spicy. Personally, I prefer it with only the 1/8 teaspoon. If you do not have a measuring spoon for 1/8 teaspoon, just use the 1/4 teaspoon measure and fill it only halfway. As you can see from my example below, it does not have to be perfect.

Dry Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies

Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Spices
Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Spices | Source

1/8 Teaspoon of Cloves

1/8 teaspoon of Cloves is all you need.
1/8 teaspoon of Cloves is all you need. | Source

Making Gingerbread Cookies with Children

Making Cookies with Children is Fun!
Making Cookies with Children is Fun! | Source

Almost done with Gingerbread Cookie Dough

Now all you have to do is mix everything up well. The dough will be very stiff, but this is what you want.

If you have a tiny tot around, measuring and mixing will be even more fun. Let the child help you with each measurement and give him or her a shot at mixing the dough. This is great bonding time. Don't worry if there is a mess, it can always be cleaned up.

Whether there is a child involved or not, this dough will work up relatively quickly with a wooden spoon and a little elbow grease. Put some muscle into it!

Clean Up While the Cookie Dough is in the Refrigerator

Seal the bag or wrap the dough well in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Seal the bag or wrap the dough well in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. | Source

Refrigerate Your Gingerbread Cookie Dough

Once the dough is mixed, you will need to form a ball with it and place it into a ziploc bag. Alternately, you can wrap it up well with plastic wrap.

Place the wrapped dough into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This is a great time to clean up any mess you have made while making the dough. You can also use this time to get out your baking pan and put a thin coating of oil on it, so the cookies won't stick later on.

Make sure you have plenty of space on a counter top or table to roll out your dough and cut your cookies into shapes. In the next step, you will also need your rolling pin, or a smooth-sided cylinder, for rolling.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. | Source

Roll Dough to 1/4 in. For Gingerbread Cookies

When you make these gingerbread cookies, you want to be sure your dough is evenly rolled out to a thickness of 1/4 inch. If you roll it out any thinner, they will not have that nice, soft, chewy inside. You can guess at the thickness, but if this is your first time, it is a good idea to use a ruler to measure. Check the dough from all sides by stooping to the level of your counter or table top and eyeing it.

This photo does not show it, but I put a very thin dusting of flour on the table before I rolled out my dough. It is a good idea to do this because the dough is a little sticky. It is important to keep the dough cool, so you will want to only break off a portion of the dough to use, and place the rest back in the fridge.

This is also a good time to get your oven preheated to 375Fahrenheit.

Using Cookie Cutters for Gingerbread Cookies

Cut your shapes with cookie cutters.
Cut your shapes with cookie cutters. | Source

How a Baked Gingerbread Cookie Should Look

After 9 minutes, the cookie will be just right.
After 9 minutes, the cookie will be just right. | Source

Finally, Bake Your Gingerbread Cookies

Your oven should be preheated to 375 Fahrenheit. If it is not preheated, do not put the cookies in yet.

Place the cookie pan on the middle shelf and bake the cookies for exactly 9 minutes. Check them at around 7 or 8 minutes, just in case your oven is a little hot. At the end of the 9 minutes the cookies should be just right.

If there are parts of your cookies that are a little crisp, such as the tips of a cut-out shape, that is fine. The bottoms should be just a tiny bit more brown than the tops.

Let the cookies cool by placing them on a cookie rack. After they are completely cool, you can use your icing to decorate them. Alternately, you can just dust them with confectioner's sugar. Wrap individually, or place in a decorative tin to give as gifts.

Instructions for Baking Gingerbread Cookies

  1. First, melt the butter over a medium heat, then let it cool a few minutes.
  2. Mix the melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, molasses and vanilla.
  3. Separate the egg yolk and add it.
  4. Stir in the half and half.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
  6. Mix the dough thoroughly with a wooden spoon until a stiff ball forms.
  7. Place the dough into a ziploc bag or wrap it in plastic wrap, then refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
  8. Lightly sprinkle the clean table or counter top with flour, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
  9. Place cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes in a preheated, 375○ Fahrenheit oven.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar or use cookie icing to decorate.

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