These are the classic gingerbread cookies--crunchy, spicy, friendly--but the dough is extra-easy, since you stir it together and you don't even need to chill it. If you prefer it to the icing-and-candy version, you can decorate the cookies with currants and dried cranberries, pressing the fruit in before baking.
Yield: About two dozen cookies
Total Time: 1 hour
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup beaten egg (about half of one large egg)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
- Icing (below)
- Cinnamon candies, sprinkles, and other decorations.
- 1 (1-lb) box confectioner's sugar
- 4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (not reconstituted)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Bring the molasses, brown sugar, and spices to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove it from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (the mixture will foam up), then stir in the butter a few pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding the next, until all the butter is melted. Add the egg and stir until combined, then stir in the flour and salt.
- Heat the oven to 325 and grease two large cookie sheets, or cover them with parchment.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead, dusting with more flour as needed, until it's soft and not sticky (less than a minute). Dust the surface with more flour and roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick, then cut as many gingerbread people as you can, transferring them to the cookie sheets as you go and spacing them an inch apart. Reroll the dough as necessary to cut more cookies.
- Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
- To make the icing, beat together all the ingredients with an electric mixer at medium speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat the icing, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until it holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes. Scrape the icing into a pastry bag with a fine tip, or, if you don't have one, scrape it into a Ziploc bag and snip off one tiny corner of the bag to squeeze the icing out of.
- Decorate the cooled cookies with icing and other decorations.
Recipe Tip: You can get powdered egg whites in the cake section of a craft store such as Michael's--and then you won't have to worry about raw egg whites (phew).