In a perfect world, you'd be able to use your favorite cookie cutters on any kind of cookie dough. But there's a reason why gingerbread men are made of gingerbread--it's a classic.
Gingerbread is fantastic for cut-out cookies because it holds its shape with almost no distortion. Today's gingerbread recipe, from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion is medium spicy and particularly crisp.
- Yield:3 /12 dozen 4 1/2-inch gingerbread men
- For the cookies:
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) butter
- 1 cup (8 ounces() packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup (12 ounces) molasses
- 1 large egg
- 5 1/2 cups (23 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup water
- For shiny cookie glaze:
- 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) milk
- 3 tablespoons pasteurized egg white*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond or other extract of your choice
- Food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter, brown sugar, salt, and spices together. Add the molasses and egg and mix well. Stir in half of the flour and the soda dissolved in water, mixing until well combined. Add the remaining flour.
Depending on the power of your mixer, you may need to add the last bit of flour by hand and knead it in. Divide the dough in half and wrap well. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. The dough changes over the resting period, making it easier to work with and adding flavor to the cookies.
Work with half the dough at a time on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut the cookies into shapes. Transfer the cookies to ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch between them.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, being careful not to overbake. The cookies will still be soft when done. Let them rest on the baking sheet to firm before transferring to a rack to cool.
To make the glaze: Place the sifted confectioners' sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Stir together the milk and egg white and add to the sugar. Mix by hand or at the mixer's lowest speed until the glaze is the consistency of molasses. Adjust the consistency with a tablespoon of water if necessary. Mix in the extract and food coloring. Keep the glaze covered while working with it, to keep it from forming a skin.
Dip the cooled cookies in the glaze, then sweep a spatula over the top of each cookie to remove the excess. Place on a wire rack for several hours or overnight to let the glaze harden and dry.