Cookie Calendar: Gingerbread Cookies


I faced down my cookie demons tonight and attempted some honest-to-goodness cutout cookies. No slicing, no pressing - this time, I flattened the dough with a rolling pin and used actual cookie cutters.

It took an hour and a half. For half the cookies.

I did learn a few valuable rollout-cookie lessons.

1. Keep the dough very, very cold. Alton Brown instructed me it was essential on his show yesterday, and today I discovered how right he was. The process went a lot more smoothly when I stuck the dough in the freezer for about 10 minutes after I rolled it out. The cutters pushed through more crisply, and the dough held its shape as I peeled it off the parchment.

2. Roll on parchment. Being able to lift the parchment and peel it back from the cookies made it a lot easier to get them up for transferring to the cookie sheet. A spatula can smoosh the dough, making it lose its shape.

3. Flour generously. AB suggests confectioner's sugar, but I have more flour around. The flour works with the chilling to prevent sticking. It's especially helpful for rubbing on the rolling pin.


After two rollings, I elected to form the rest of the dough into small rounds. Cookies turn tougher with each batch you roll out, but I can't bear to throw away the remaining dough.

This recipe produced crunchy cookies, much like gingersnaps. They taste pleasantly spicy, with a strong molasses flavor. For a softer small cookie, bake for less than eight minutes.

Cousin C helped with the cookies today. She's older than A and B, and certainly seems to have experience, but it's hard to keep her interest for long in activities not involving driving a Mario Kart vehicle off a bridge. Oh well.

gingerbread01.jpgGingerbread Cookies
Source: The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Yield: 3 dozen 3-inch cookies

3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (6 oz) brown sugar, packed
3/4 (9 oz) cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz) flour

1. In a saucepan set over low heat, or in the microwave, melt butter, then stir in the brown sugar, molasses, salt, and spices. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then beat in the egg.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, and then stir these dry ingredients into the molasses mixture. Divide the dough in half, and wrap well. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

3. Preheat your oven to 375°F. There's no need to grease the baking sheets.

4. Once the dough has chilled, take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough. Roll it out as thin or thick as you like; for slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly.

5. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap over it as you roll, pulling the plastic to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour. For soft dough, or dough to be rolled extra-thin, you may choose to roll right onto the ungreased back of a baking sheet.

6. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible to minimize waste.

7. Transfer the cookies to ungreased cookie sheets (or, if you've rolled right onto the parchment, remove the dough scraps between the cookies). Bake the cookies just until they're slightly brown around the edges 8 to 12 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until they're set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

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