Get ready to have some fun baking your holiday cookies! These cookies are dark and beautiful with a soft texture and spicy, just-sweet-enough flavor. Don’t try to get the icing perfect — just lay your cookies out on sheets of wax paper and have fun piping clothes and other designs. (Or just leave the cookies plain — did I mention that they are delicious?) I remember having especially good decorating karma the year I was able to make Christopher his own gingerbread man, complete with turtleneck, corduroy pants and cap. (He loved it!)
Blackstrap Gingerbread Cookies
makes 3 - 4 dozen cookies, depending on your cookie cutter sizes
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 eggs large
- 4 ⅔ cups unbleached, wheat flour
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp cream or milk
Cream butter, molasses and brown sugar in the workbowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add salt and mix. Add eggs, one at a time and mix.
In a separate bowl, whisk flour with the spices and baking soda. Add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar and mix to combine.
Lay 3 sheets of plastic wrap (about 20 inches each) on a cool work surface (marble or granite cutting board or countertop is ideal) and mound 1/3 of the dough on each of the plastic pieces (dough will be very soft – don’t worry!) Pat each mound of dough into a disk and wrap with the plastic. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheet pans each with a Silpat or piece of baking parchment. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Let dough warm slightly (about 10 – 15 minutes at room temperature), then roll dough to about ¼-inch thickness using a floured rolling pin. Cut out gingerbread men (yes, they can be women too) or other shapes and transfer cookies to cookie sheet pan (I like to use a bench scraper to do this) and bake 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking racks to cool completely. Gather dough scraps, wrap in plastic and re-chill. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with the remaining dough.
Whisk powdered sugar with the cream (or milk) until you have a smooth icing that holds its shape when piped onto cookies. Add more powdered sugar or more milk to achieve desired consistency.
To decorate the cookies, make sure they are cool, then use a pastry bag with a basic round writing tip or simply put the icing in a baggie and snip off a tiny corner of the bag so that the icing can flow out when you squeeze the bag.
Recipe Notes / Tips
- Dough disks like these keep great in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days, and in the freezer for few months.
- The tastiest cookies will come from the first one or two rolls of your dough. If you gather and re-roll the scraps more than 2 or 3 times, your cookies will be tough. (If you are baking with children, hand over the scraps for some fragrant play dough!)
- Keep the icing simple so that sugar just compliments, doesn’t compete with the spiciness of the cookies.
- For added color and decoration, press cinnamon red hot candies into the dough before baking.These are great for coat and shoe buttons, eyes and holly leaf berries.