Gingerbread cookies are such a classic treat for the holidays.
I have always loved eating gingerbread cookies, but I just bought mine from a store. Making them from scratch seemed like way too much work. Also, while my baking tends to taste good, I am somewhat lacking in decorating skills. All the gingerbread people from the store are so fancy and cute. I didn’t want to be disappointed when my gingerbread cookies looked like blobs. This year I decided it was high time to tackle the project of making my own gingerbread cookies.
First, pick a recipe.
I used this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, but you can find so many options online or in cookbooks. Before you start, just make sure that you have all the essential ingredients. Most of them are pretty standard items, but you may not have molasses, ginger, or ground cloves. I have been in the middle of a recipe before when I realized that I didn’t have one of the crucial ingredients. Learn from my mistakes!
Also, get started on gingerbread cookies early in the day.
Apparently, you are supposed to chill the dough for three hours or overnight before working with it. Oops! I only managed to chill my dough for two hours and it was still a bit sticky. Because of this, some of my gingerbread people lost limbs. There is a reason for chilling the dough for a long period. Plan accordingly.
After chilling the dough, roll it flat and cut out the shapes.
I like to roll my dough on a silicone mat, so there is less stickiness. Honestly, I never measure how thick the dough gets after using a rolling pin. I just make a good guess and then check the oven frequently to make sure that I don’t underbake or burn my cookies. If you are feeling super ambitious, you can cut out shapes by hand, but cookie cutters are definitely the way to go in my opinion. I also like to use a silicone mat on my baking sheet. They let the cookies slide right off the pan so they don’t get stuck and break. There is much less frustration when I use silicone baking mats.
Next, let the gingerbread cookies cool completely.
You don’t want to decorate cookies that are still warm. Trust me. The icing and decorations will slide right off. This is another reason why you need to plan enough time when making gingerbread cookies. It takes time. If you’re hungry though, you can totally eat the warm cookies. Just don’t bother decorating them first.
Finally, make some icing and decorate your cookies.
I appreciate easy things. For icing, I just mix milk and powdered sugar. My advice is to start with a small amount of milk. If you pour too much, you will need to use an entire mountain of powdered sugar to make the icing thick enough. Again, just take my word for this. I’ve been there, done that. If you’re fancy, you can use a piping bag to decorate your gingerbread cookies. I’m not fancy, so I just used a toothpick for the faces and a small spatula for the larger areas. Also, I just decorated with the leftover sprinkles and sugars I already had hiding in my cupboards. My kids were particularly impressed with the smashed up candy cane. It felt fancy, plus it was rather therapeutic to pulverize something.