Certain cookies are iconic at this time of year, but they often don’t taste as good as they look. Thankfully, these are the perfect gingerbread cookies — adorable, spicy, a tad chewy, and utterly delicious. I make them every year, and people always say they are the best gingerbread cookies they’ve ever had.
Once again, my reputation as a baker rests on the shoulders of Rose Levy Berenbaum. Her book, Rose’s Christmas Cookies, should be on the shelf of everyone who bakes cookies at the holidays.
adapted from Rose’s Christmas Cookies
Makes about 40 small or 25 large gingerbread people
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Grandma’s molasses (unsulphured)
Royal Icing, for decorating
Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy (about 3-5 minutes using a stand mixer). Add the molasses and egg and beat until blended. On low speed, add the dry ingredients until well blended.
Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a flat-ish disc or rectangle. Wrap tightly and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or overnight, if necessary.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/8 inch thickness or so. If the dough is very cold, you may need to let it warm a bit on the counter before you begin to roll it out. Cut out the dough with cookie cutters in the shape of people, large or small. Place the shapes on a piece of baking parchment or a lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving an inch or so between them. Bake for 8-10 minutes for the small cookies, a couple minutes longer for the large ones. Cookies will not color appreciably in baking, so look for them to rise a bit in the center, and be just starting to firm up.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to wire cooling racks. Decorate with royal icing (or melted white chocolate).
These cookies keep for months, stored in an airtight container, making them the perfect cookie to make early in your holiday season.