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Kids love to decorate these fellas which makes them extra awesome. One, because it takes the burden off of me to decorate. And two, because they usually cram as much icing onto every square inch than anyone thought possible, thus creating a fantastical treat feast in just one bite!
So, parents. I’m sharing my recipe for basic gingerbread cookies for YOUR benefit. You create the cookie. Then let your kids do the rest.
Let’s begin with an electric stand mixer. Let’s also begin with being honest… I had the chance to buy this mixer with wedding money and I didn’t do it. When I realized the grave mistake I had made (2 years later) my husband and I scraped our wallets to buy one. Oh, fool I was to think I’d never care for one. When someone hands you money and says “use this towards a KitchenAid electric stand mixer” please be obedient to their request!
In this fine mixer add 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup molasses – both should be at room temperature for optimal mixing!
As that’s mixing you can measure out all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. That’s 2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk them together.
Every 30 seconds take the time to scrape down the sides to make sure it’s all combined. It will eventually look grainy and probably dry, but don’t panic! It’s deceiving. You see, when you take the bowl off of the electric stand mixer and press in with your hands you’ll find it sticks together.
Now here’s the totally lame part. You gotta wait an hour. Okay, so I sometimes don’t wait a whole hour or even five minutes. But really, this is the kind of cookie dough that really benefits from a long chill in the fridge.
Gingerbread cookies are chock full of spices. The longer you let it rest, the longer the spices have to marinate the dough creating a deeper flavor. Plus, most roll out cookies are easier to work with cold.
Below you’ll see a chilled ball of dough that I’m trying to get a chunk out of. Work in small batches on a lightly floured surface for ease, especially if you’re letting the kids help! The more you roll, cut, re-roll, cut, etc… the tougher it is to work with the dough and the tougher the finished product out of the oven.
Gingerbread cookie dough is actually quite delicate. When trying to transfer the gingerbread men to a cookie sheet I like to flour the edge of THIS SPATULA (affiliate link) and gently push it under the dough. Then pull it away lifting the cut-out slightly.
And like a parent laying down a sleeping newborn, hold your breath as you pray for a whole gingerbread man to part with the dough gracefully and undamaged. Then place this precious toothsome treat onto a bed of parchment paper atop a cookie sheet.
By the way, I like these pre-cut parchment paper pieces. Just another way to make life simpler. Besides, I can’t seem to tear them from a roll with any uniformity.
Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes. Yep. Long chill in the fridge is redeemed by the quick bake time.
As long as I’m the one to transfer the cookies to the oven then my son can pretty much do the rest. Well, maybe I should keep an eye on it. Otherwise we might end up with an inch thick dinner plate sized cookie that never fully cooks through.
But seriously, kids are the best. Most of the time I find myself shooing them out of the kitchen so I can toast a freaking slice of bread in peace, but far be it from me to deprive them of this classic Christmas experience!
Once you have yourself a whole batch of basic gingerbread cookies completely cooled you may decorate as you wish. But if you’re like me (and my son) you’ll not be able to resist an old fashioned fresh-outta-the-oven cookie feast.
Also, they make great holiday party favors. Check out what Yellow Bliss Road did with these super cute gift tags! They’re a free printable. You can’t go wrong with that.
Try these BASIC SUGAR COOKIES for your next baking-with-kids adventure 😉
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup shortening
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an electric stand mixer combine shortening and molasses on low. While that mixes, measure out the rest of the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture while still mixing on low.
- Once combined, remove bowl from electric stand mixer and form the dough into a ball with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
- Roll out dough to ⅛-1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies. Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven transfer cookies to cooling rack. Once completely cooled you can decorate!