When I think of classic Christmas cookies, Gingerbread Cookies are one of the first cookies that pop into my mind. We actually never made them growing up and I had only tried them on a few occasions up until a couple years ago when I decided I wanted to try making something new for Christmas. This recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli was the first one that caught my eye, it was a little different than the others as it incorporated both orange zest and lemon juice, so I had to try it. They turned out to be the best Gingerbread Cookies I had ever tried, and everyone that has tried them since then has agreed. This was all before I found out I had celiac and although I can’t eat them anymore (I haven’t found a good gluten free recipe I like yet), I love making them every year to give to family and friends.
The dough for these cookies has three components; the butter and sugar base, dry ingredients, and wet ingredients. You begin by mixing the butter, sugar, and orange zest with an electric mixer until smooth. I usually end up mixing for about 5 minutes, you want it to be a very smooth mixture, but I also just don’t have the patience to do much longer than that. After that you combine all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, and then the egg, molasses, and lemon juice in another bowl. Then you mix all three of these components together to make the most perfect, thick, gingerbread dough. Not only does it look gorgeous, but it smells amazing. The aromas of all the warm spices combined with the sweet and zesty orange and lemon are divine.
After chilling the dough, the fun part of rolling it out and cutting the cookies can begin. You don’t want the dough rolled out too thinly though, you want to keep it about a half of an inch thick so you end up with perfectly cooked, but still soft cookies. You can use any shape of cookie cutter that you want, but I love doing the classic gingerbread man shape. Make sure you use plenty of flour on your rolling surface so the dough doesn’t stick, and when you place the cookies on the pan, keep a little room between them, as they will spread slightly. They only cook for 8-10 minutes, and when they’re done you can enjoy them warm right out of the oven (it’s nearly impossible to not have a bite right away), cool, dipped in milk, or with candies and frosting on top, whatever satisfies your sweet tooth most!
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 orange, zested
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dry ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Place butter, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, molasses, and lemon juice together. Set aside.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and combine. Add the egg mixture and combine. Remove the dough from the bowl and split in half. Wrap each half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the first half of the dough until about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly flour cookie cutters and cut out the shapes. Use a metal spatula to transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat process for remainder of dough and second half. Bake until browned around the edges, about 8-10 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.