December is here and pumpkin spice has been pushed back farther in the cabinet to make way for gingerbread spices and the ingredients to make our favorite Christmas and holiday sweets and cookies. This is an easy gingerbread cookie recipe adapted from a cookie passed down from my grandmother. I think it originally was maybe a molasses shortbread recipe (no eggs), but we have always used it as one of our favorite roll out cookies at Christmas. I’m sure it could be used to make shortbread cookies similar to our shortbread recipe. We generally make the gingerbread molasses shortbread recipe into gingerbread men and women (because this was what my family did when I was a kid), but I frequently make it into reindeer with red noses. And my kids like trying out all the cookie cutters. I think the snowflake shape was most popular this year.
We’ve teamed up with some other talented bloggers to collaborate on a list of fun Christmas goodies.
See the list at the bottom of our post for the links to these other delicious treats!
This is the first year we made this easy gingerbread cookie recipe when my kids actually helped roll out, cut, and decorate our cookies. I’m not going to lie, it got a little crazy (and messy). However, I think we all enjoyed it. Since this gingerbread cookie recipe contains no eggs and I used a vegan alternative recipe for the royal icing, it was a kid-friendly cooking activity. You try telling kids not to eat the dough because it has raw eggs. And really, who am I kidding? They learned to eat the cookie dough from watching me.
Now that I know it can be done, cookie making and decorating will go on the yearly Christmas activity list! Plus, I figured out a few ways to make it go smoother. The dough needs to be made 1-2 hours ahead and chilled. You can also make it several days ahead of time. Or make the cookies and freeze them to thaw and decorate closer to Christmas. I think it’s really all about finding what works for you, figuring out some time saving or sanity saving tips, and then just “rolling” with it.
Tips for making and decorating cookies with kids:
- make the dough ahead of time and chill in small manageable squares that can be rolled out more easily (I used to refrigerate one large clump of dough)
- have several batches prepped and put dough back in fridge if you’ve rolled it out more than 2-3 times because it gets sticky and clumps on the rolling pin
- before announcing it’s time to make the cookies have all the cutters and rolling pins set out ahead with flour for sprinkling on surfaces and squares mats, trays, or parchment for kids to roll out on
- make decorating easier and buy store bought frosting and premade candies or mini chocolate chips for decorating already baked cookies (my kids just dotted frosting in spots as “glue” and stuck their preferred candy on for eyes, buttons, etc.)
- for younger kids let them help with the cookie cutter and some of the decorating and skip all the rest–it’s not worth the hassle if no one is enjoying it
If you are looking for more technical tips, King Arthur flour has a great cookie decorating resource page.
Finally, on to the easy gingerbread cookie recipe:
For the cookies:
- 1 c . butter , softened
- 1/2 c . brown sugar
- 1/3 c . molasses
- 1/8 tsp . baking soda
- 1/2 tsp . cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp . ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp . ground cloves
- 2 1/2 - 2 2/3 c . flour
For the frosting
- 2 c . sifted confectioner sugar
- 1 T . corn syrup
- 2-3 T . milk (we used almond milk, but cow's milk and soy milk should also work)
For the cookies:
- Cream the butter and sugar.
- Mix in the molasses.
- Mix in spices and baking soda.
- Mix in flour in small amounts and slowly until mixed in.
- Dump out on counter, form into 2-3 portions and flatten into square shapes, maybe an inch thick.
- Wrap tightly (I wrapped in wax paper and placed inside a ziploc bag) and chill for 1-2 hours and up to a week in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Roll out dough evenly to about 1/8-1/4" thick.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies, and place on cookie sheets.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes depending on size and thickness of cookies.
For the icing:
- Place sifted sugar in mixing bowl.
- Whisk corn syrup and 1 T. milk together.
- Add syrup/milk mixture and slowly turn on mixer.
- Add additional milk 1/2-1 T. at a time until desired consistency of icing--should drizzle and retain shape if you are using for outlining or drawing lines/dots. If you are using for flooding icing, add milk until it doesn't retain shape when drizzled, but not super runny.
- Place icing in a pastry bag or ziploc bag and decorate!
Christmas Cookies, clockwise from top left:
- Holiday White Chocolate Mini Popcorn Balls (Gloria – Homemade and Yummy)
- Gingerbread Cookies (Melissa – My Wife Can Cook)
- No Bake Chocolate Cranberry Cookies (Kirsten – Treat Yourself Sweeter)
- No-Bake Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cranberry Cookies (Arlene – Flour on My Face)
- Gluten-Free Spiced Cookie Brittle (Sarah – The Fit Cookie)
- Macadamia Date Roll Cookies (Veena – Veena Azmanov)