Gingerbread, gingerbread men, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread houses, ginger cookies….I was all ginger – confused yesterday when trying to decide what to bake with my kids. All I knew for certain was that I wanted my home to fill with winter spice scents like cinnamon and cloves. I really did not want to make another cake because I could just imagine half of it getting thrown away after a few days of nibbling-we’re only three people in my house and sometimes a cake is just too much. I can’t believe I even said that. Maybe that’s a step in the right direction!
I also didn’t want a recipe where I had to stick the dough in the fridge overnight or for a few hours even. That was when I found chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe for Orange Scented Gingerbread Cookies (men, trees, whatev!). This recipe was easy and it delivered the flavors I was yearning, 1000 percent. I will make these again, with or without the icing. I actually just sprinkled sugar onto mine and they were great.
Alex Guarnaschelli’s Holiday Cookies
courtesy of foodnetwork.com
- 1 1/2 sticks lightly salted butter, softened
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 orange, zested
The dry ingredients:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup additional for rolling, if needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground dry ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
The wet ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Easy Orange Frosting, recipe follows
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, add the butter, sugar and orange zest and beat until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk to blend. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses and lemon juice.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the butter and sugar are integrated, lower the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Add the egg mixture and when blended, remove the bowl from the machine. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press the first half of the dough in between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the second half. This step will make it easier to finish rolling out the dough when it has chilled. It will also mean you only have half of the dough getting warm as you roll it.
Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the first half of the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly flour the cookie cutter(s) and cut the shapes, making as few scraps as possible. Use a metal spatula to gently transfer them, cookie by cookie, (the cookies should be similar size) to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough and transfer them to another baking sheet. A note about crowding the tray(s): these particular cookies can spread a little. Leave room between the cookies. Better to use 3 baking sheets with fewer cookies than to crowd them on 2 trays. Bake until brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.
Got scraps? Form the scraps into a ball, press it flat and chill in the refrigerator. These cookies may be a little more “tough” because the dough will have been worked a little more than the others.
Why not have a little frosting on your gingerbread?
Easy Orange Frosting
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon orange liqueur
- 1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
In a medium bowl add all of the ingredients and whisk together to combine. If too thick in consistency, add a touch more orange juice or water to thin out.
Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe the frosting between 2 of the gingerbread cookies. Press the 2 cookies halves gently together.
Rosemary Maggiore is our Last Minute Lady. A single mom of two kids plus a full time job (she runs this website!) keep her busy and usually pushing things to the last minute. Somehow she manages to keep her cool and her sanity while she enjoys good food, wine, friends and most importantly, family. Follow her on Twitter at @roemaggiore