Happy Holidays, everyone! I kept meaning to post a consistent series of Christmas cookies throughout the month of December, but alas, things got away from me and now there’s only four days left until Christmas. But as anyone living in the Midwest knows, winter storm Draco just finished blowing through and I spent the entirety of yesterday trapped inside my apartment, so I did what any good baker would do: I cranked out some cookies!
I discovered this recipe for gingerbread men in my trusty The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which has yet to fail me in any of my endeavors from its pages. I’ve been using it for a few years now, and I think it’s an absolutely fantastic recipe for two main reasons: 1) it produces thin, crispy, perfectly spiced gingerbread men that aren’t dry like so many others out there, and 2) you can roll the dough out until there’s nothing left, because the dough doesn’t get tough.
To anyone familiar with rollout cookie dough, this seems too good to be true. Most cookie dough can only be rolled out twice (maybe three times if you’re lucky) before the cookies they produce become tough and chewy, and you really have to work to squeeze as many cookies out of the dough as possible so you don’t waste it. But not these cookies; I’ve successfully managed to roll out this gingerbread dough up to six times without the cookies becoming tough, and the only reason I didn’t shoot for seven was because I actually ran out of dough. I swear it brings a tear of joy to my eye every time.
(Okay, not really, but you get the point.)
From The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook; Makes approx. 48 cookies
- 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c. dark molasses
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla extract and continue to beat until incorporated.
Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly add the flour mixture; I usually add about a 1/4 c. at a time, waiting until the flour is almost fully mixed into the dough before adding the next portion. Once all the flour has been added and an even dough has formed, divide the dough into two portions. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and let soften for about ten minutes.
Once ready, lightly dust a clean work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out a section of the dough to about a 1/4 in. thickness, re-dusting your rolling pin as needed. Sometimes it also helps to sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough. Once the dough has been rolled out, cut out shapes and transfer them to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Continue until all the dough has been used up, then repeat with the remaining section.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until they start to grow crisp around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with royal icing or buttercream frosting, if desired. I used buttercream frosting for this batch because I happened to have it on hand, but I’ve used royal icing in the past and it works just as well.