Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
An old-fashioned gingerbread cookie perfect for holidays or any day
— delicious fragrant, easy to prepare. and fun to decorate.
BECAUSE I SAID SO
A while back, while I was making bread, Clay, my 5-year-old, walked into the kitchen and asked, “Whatcha doing, Mommy?”
“I’m making pumpkin bread,” I told my son.
“Can I help you?” he asked eagerly. I thought to myself, oh please no! Don’t you want to go watch TV instead? But I answered, “Sure!”
So I measured the ingredients and Clay poured them into my mixer. I let him smell the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves before spooning them out.
So far, so good. He’s actually doing a good job and is getting the ingredients mostly IN the bowl. I showed him how to turn my mixer on low speed and he had fun watching the bread dough combine. I added the last two cups of flour and turned around to put the measuring cup in the sink when Clay turned my mixer on. High speed. It looked like it was snowing in my kitchen. Flour poofed out everywhere. I, of course, used the utmost calm as I called to Clay to turn off the mixer while I ran across the kitchen.
“Turn it off! OFF! Clay! TURN OFF THE MIXER!!! CLAY TURN IT OFF! OFF! OFF!!!!!! CLAAAAAY!!!! TURN IT OFF!!!!”
Because I maintained such a serene disposition, Clay freaked out and turned the mixer up even higher. Boy, it was fun times around here. After I got the flour explosion cleaned up, I got to clean up Brooklyn (my 3-year-old) who was playing in the flour and licking it up off the counters. Mmmm, who needs butter, pumpkin, spices, or eggs when you’ve got delicious plain ole flour?
Thankfully, there are other times when the kids really do help in the kitchen. One of our favorite things to make is gingerbread cookies. We all enjoy baking, decorating, and of course, eating them. Here’s my recipe. It makes THE BEST gingerbread! I cut them on the thick side and try not to overbake them so they’re nice and chewy. If you like crunchy gingerbread or you’re using it to make houses, just roll the dough out a little more thinly and bake it a little longer. It makes it a bit sturdier for construction.
Prep time: 1 hour
5 – 5 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 large eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt shortening on medium-low heat. Cool slightly. Add sugar, molasses, and eggs; mix well. (Make sure shortening is cooled enough, and add the eggs slowly while stirring, or you’ll have a scrambled egg mess.) Add 4 cups dry ingredients and mix well.
- Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining dry ingredients by hand. Add a little more flour, if necessary to make a firm dough. (I always need to add a little more flour.) Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness (see note). Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out shapes.
- Lay cut-out shapes on ungreased baking sheets. (Put the same sized shapes on one sheet at a time or you’ll have some underdone while others burn.) Bake small and medium sized shapes for 6-10 minutes, and large shapes for 10-15 minutes, or until cookies puff up and start to brown around the edges. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
- When completely cool, decorate cookies with Royal Icing (see recipe below) and candies.
Yield: Approximately 2 dozen 5-inch cookies
Royal Icing is a white icing that dries to a beautiful, hard finish. It’s important to work quickly and keep the frosting covered as much as possible to prevent a crust from forming.
Because the icing is made with meringue powder instead of egg whites, you don’t have to worry about the kids getting sick when they squirt the bags of icing directly into their mouths while “decorating.” Meringue powder can be purchased at cake decorating and party stores.
For stiffer icing, omit 1 tablespoon of water.
3 tablespoons meringue powder (see note)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons water (see note)
In large mixing bowl, beat all ingredients at medium speed for 7-10 minutes, until peaks form. Store excess icing in airtight container.
Yield: 3 cups