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The holiday season is the perfect time of the year to spend time with the family in the kitchen. Cooking during the holiday season brings out some typically seasonal flavors and aromas, and always turns my family’s kitchen into the epicenter of the house. I look forward to cooking during the holidays with my family, because it is then when we can all come together and share the experience of making delicious food.
Since I have a sweet tooth, I have always been attracted to the decadent desserts that come along during the holiday season. One of my favorites to make is gingerbread cookies. Not only are they packed with a seasonally unique flavor, decorating these little gingerbread men as a child was a fun activity I shared with my family.
Even though I am an adult now, there is still something about frosting the face and buttons on gingerbread men that can get me in the mood for the holidays. If that was not enough, the sweetness of the icing balances well with the slightly spicy flavor in the gingerbread, which makes for a delicious winter treat.
Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
• 1 package sugar cookie mix
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup all purpose flour
• 1/4 cup melted butter
• 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 cup dark molasses
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large egg whites or 5 tablespoons meringue powder
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• Food coloring, if desired
Directions for the Gingerbread Cookies
Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix together all the ingredients in a large sized bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour. It is important to make sure the dough is chilled properly before using.
After one hour has passed, take the dough and roll it out on a flat surface. It is important that the surface is sprinkled with a generous amount of flour, to ensure the dough doesn’t stick. Roll the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut the shapes of the gingerbread men. Place the cookies on a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
Directions for Royal Icing
Use an electric mixer to blend together the egg whites and the lemon juice. Continue to beat these ingredients together until it becomes a frothy texture. Turn the electric mixer to a low speed and combine the sifted powdered sugar. When the ingredients become shiny and smooth, turn the electric mixer to a high speed and continue to blend until the texture becomes glossy and stiff. This may take around 5 minutes.
Food coloring can be added to the royal icing for more colorful decorations. Spoon the royal icing into a pastry bag. When the gingerbread cookies are ready to come out of the oven and have cooled, decorate the gingerbread men creatively, with faces, buttons, or add sprinkles.
This recipe for gingerbread cookies makes between 12-15 cookies.
Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee of The Food Network.