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How to Make Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

2 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Ten Classic Christmas Cookies

Making and decorating gingerbread cookies is a Christmas tradition with many families. It's holiday fun for the children, and cookies make inexpensive gifts. Crisp gingerbread is best for ornaments; roll these out a bit thinner than called for in this recipe, and bake an extra minute. For a thick, chewy gingerbread cookie, follow the instructions and make sure not to overcook.

Gingerbread Cookies

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 8 minutes; 2 hours cooling time

Equipment: 3-inch cookie cutters of various designs, rolling pin

Yield: Forty-five cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

1 large egg

3-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons powdered ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Red cinnamon candies (optional)

Dried currants (optional)

Royal Icing (optional, for decorating)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Cream the butter with a flat paddle attachment in a mixer on high speed until the butter is soft, about 3 minutes. Beat in the sugar and continue beating until the sugar is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses. Beat in the egg, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

    Carefully soften the butter in the microwave if you’ve forgotten to bring it to room temperature.

  3. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing just until each batch is blended. Shape the dough into a large, flat ball by hand, kneading a few times until it’s smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it at least 2 hours or until firm enough to roll out.

  4. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with pan coating.

  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough into shapes as desired. Transfer the cookies to the cookie sheets, using a spatula. Leave at least 2 inches between each cookie.

    The baking directions in this recipe are for cookies that are 3 inches across; if you use a different size, monitor the cookies closely while they’re in the oven.

    Place similar-sized cookies on the same sheet. To make hanging ornaments, punch holes in the tops of the shapes with a straw or blunt end of a chopstick.

    For decoration, place cinnamon candies or currants on the gingerbread people to make eyes, noses, mouths, and buttons.

  6. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, depending on their size. Rotate the cookie sheets once during baking. The cookies should have just begun to brown around the edges and feel firm to the touch when you remove them. Cool the pans on racks for a few minutes. Transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.

    Let the pans cool completely before proceeding with the next batch of cookies; otherwise, the uncooked dough will melt a bit and become misshapened.

    You can reuse the parchment once. Try flipping it over, making use of both sides.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks or freeze for up to one month.

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