Don’t you feel like December is totally cookie month? Whether it’s bake sales, cookie swaps, holiday gifts…cookies are always at the center and it’s totally awesome. I welcome them with arms wide open.
We’ve talked about cookies before on here so it’s no surprise that I absolutely love them. But I have a secret to share – I’m kind of terrified of roll-out, cut-out cookies.
What I love about cookies is that they’re simple to make. You just combine dry and then wet, add the two together and then rough scoop onto baking sheets. They’re rustic, clearly homemade, and so low maintenance that they’re the perfect treat for the 99% (aka everybody). Cut-out cookies are the complete opposite of that. There’s a specific method, they require time to chill, you have to roll them out which is super hands-on for a cookie, and then you have to cut them into shapes and hope that they go in and come out of the oven in the same shape. It’s a lot of pressure for a girl to handle! So I’ve avoided it as much as I can. You can’t blame me.
But I figured it was time to overcome my fear, so I tried it, and it worked! It’s true that cut-out cookies are more hands on and higher maintenance and there’s nothing you can do about that besides have a good attitude and a nice glass of wine on the side to ease your nerves. I’m not the only one that does that right?? But what you CAN control is the shape. The key to maintaining the shape of your cookie cutter through the baking process is ensuring the dough is actually chilled. It’s super important, if not the most important thing.
I toyed around with gingerbread cookies quite a bit, using more ginger, using less ginger, using fresh ginger, using dried ginger. I was pretty gingered out for a little while until I landed on this and it was perfect-o. They’re spicy without knocking you off your feet. I like mine crunchier so I baked them the full 9 minutes. Have you ever had a hard gingerbread cookie that’s SO hard it almost breaks your teeth? So not enjoyable. These aren’t like that, they’re a delicate kind of hard. Like a rose bush with thorns. These cookies are the roses of the baking world.
So moral of the story is don’t be afraid of cut-out cookies! Try them and then pat yourself on the bat and make a million more. You can do it!
HANUKKAH- STYLE GINGERBREAD COOKIES
(makes ~30, 3-inch cookies + scraps)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
scant 1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons), room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Start by combining the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, packing powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg until everything is evenly combined and incorporated together.
In a separate large bowl, work the wet ingredients together. Start by creaming the butter and light brown sugar together using a hand mixer or a whisk until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it (about 10-15 seconds). Add the egg and beat until it’s fully mixed in. Add the molasses and vanilla and beat together until everything is thick but smooth and an even color throughout.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet and work them together. The dough is thick, so it’ll take a little while for the wet to absorb the dry. I’d fold the dry into the wet a few times and then using the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula, press the flour into the wet. That’ll help the two come together. Keep doing that until everything is incorporated. It’ll take 2-3 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, press it into an 8-inch square and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. Sprinkle a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out half of the dough so it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle with flour as you need, moving the dough around so the bottom doesn’t stick to your counter. Don’t worry about the dough looking white, the flour should absorb right into the dough as your roll it out.
Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Using your cookie cutters of choice, cut out the cookies and place them on the baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes if you want softer cookies or 9 minutes for crunchier, hard cookies. The cookies will puff up and look undone but they’ll continue to cook when you remove them and they’ll set up nicely once cooled. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Move to a wire wrack to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container or ziploc bag for 4-5 days. Enjoy!