Gingerbread Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
Nothing rings in the holidays more to me than Christmas trees and gingerbread! Oh the smells are wonderfully terrific. For me gingerbread is the quintessential Christmas cookie that has to be made every year. I have made many a different gingerbread but had never found “the one”. I wanted a thick, chewy cookie that had a well rounded flavour full of the spices that fill your house with that wondrous aroma, I wanted a cookie that tasted as good as it smelled! Many of the recipes I had tried in the past were either too crispy and did not stand the test of time or they fell flat in the flavour department. Since many of the recipes for gingerbread make a ton of cookies I would end up trying a new one each year, as my family can only eat so many cookies and I never want to throw anything out unless it is truly horrible. My search ended last year when I found the following recipe for chewy gingerbread cookies. Oh my, oh my, are these the best gingerbread I have ever found! They also pair quite nicely with cream cheese icing (I think this may be becoming my theme, but what can I say – I love cheese of all kinds!!!) I got the stamp of approval from Emma who loves these cookies and says that she doesn’t even like gingerbread that much. This year she was insisting that we make them, the sooner the better. So that is what we did. We had a great time cutting them out and figuring out how to decorate them with the cream cheese frosting without them looking too juvenile (didn’t happen) but in the end isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Getting together with loved ones to have fun and a great laugh! I think we did a great job juggling our ever busier babies and not eating all of the cookies before sharing them with others. Hey, we even managed to get through it with Oliver knocking over cups of tea and Penelope chewing on my iPhone, I knew daddy would not be too happy if he found out about me putting the phone within her reach as I am already on my second iPhone and I only got it 2 months ago, yikes!
I hope you enjoy them as much as we do, happy baking!
Stocking update: My mom and I have finished 3, yippee!!! Only 4 more to go but my mom and I are at the bottom of the list so we will see what gets done…
MOM-O-METER: 5 out of 5
The dough came together really easy and there aren’t that many ingredients. The rolling and the resting time are something that just come with a gingerbread cookie and it is a fun holiday tradition to get together with family and friends for cookie decorating. We can’t wait til our little ones can partake in all the fun!
Gingerbread Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from No Special Effects
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened
3/4 cup molasses (I would use a mild molasses so that the spices don’t become overshadowed, unless you love a dark molasses then by all means use it!)
2 tablespoons whole milk (I used one tablespoon of 1% milk and 1 tablespoon of cream)
First mix together the molasses and the milk and set aside. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Then stir the brown sugar into the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender (or two forks) cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very fine meal. Pour the molasses mixture in a third at a time, stirring well after each addition. The dough should end up looking like coffee ice cream. (Alternately you can mix the dough in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment).
Divide the dough in two and place one half on a rectangle of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment on top and pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Then using a rolling pin roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness (the original recipe said that you can place two magazines on either end of the rolling pin to get the right thickness, neat trick!). Repeat with the other half of the dough. When the dough is rolled out stack the pieces onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and gently peel off both of the pieces of parchment paper. Cut the dough into whatever shapes you like and place on baking sheet, spacing the cookies at least an inch apart. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes if they are 3 inch cookies and from 8-11 minutes if they are 5 inch cookies. Rotate the pan half way through the cooking. Repeat with the remaining dough. Will make roughly 2 dozen 3 inch cookies.
Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 250g (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
A little less than 1 500g bag of icing sugar (about a pound)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, add the vanilla and sugar and beat until well combined. Sometimes I start with less sugar and add more according to how sweet I want the icing. On the tree cookies pictured above I took some of the icing and turned it into a glaze by adding a little bit of milk until I got my desired consistency, I then dipped the top of the cookies into it and lifted them out pulling the trunk up first to create the effect.
Have fun decorating!
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