This has been my favorite holiday season so far. The girls are at those ages where they get so much joy from all of the festivities of Christmas. This year we have been baking up a storm, as you may have noticed! This post is all about the girls and the special moments we had making these delicious gingerbread cookies. We even transformed a batch into our Christmas tree giant cookie scene! In this post, I am going to show you how I did both the small cookies as well as the giant Christmas tree.
The Gingerbread Cookie Dough
This recipe uses a mix of butter and coconut oil. When cooking with such warm and fragrant spices, I love adding an extra enhancement like coconut oil to harmonize all of those bold spices. Keep reading for an extra enhancement in the spice mixture. The very subtle coconut oil will bring it all together so beautifully.
With the paddle attachment of your stand mixer get that butter and coconut oil mixed.
Then my best baking helper, Bea, got that brown sugar measured out and added in to be creamed.
We let this cream for about 3 minutes until fluffy.
While this was mixing, Bea helped me whisk the dry ingredients of flour and spices, which we then had all ready and waiting for later on. You are going to use a good amount of spices in this recipe. And since you know I love giving you an edge, the secret ingredient in this gingerbread cookie dough is bit of freshly ground black pepper. This takes it over the gingerbread edge for flavor enhancement. It’s gingerbread, after all, and we want it to leave a spicy and festive impression!
Once your butter and sugar mixture is creamed you will then add in your egg and vanilla. Let it mix a couple of minutes more. Next is time for molasses. When you add molasses, a tip for getting it all from your measuring cup to your mixer is to use cooking spray. Just give your measuring cup a good spray and that sticky molasses will slide right out. And don’t forget to give it a good smell, like Bea! I love how she takes in all the smells of the ingredients we use!
Make sure to turn off your mixer before adding in the molasses or it will splatter everywhere! I learned that the first time I ever made gingerbread! What a mess!
The smell of this batter is all about the holiday season. It will really get you in the mood! When we bake we always listen to Christmas music. We do some dancing as well, which really adds some extra flair to the mood and the cookies!
Then turn your mixer to stir when you incorporate the flour/spice mixture. This will gently get everything incorporated without over mixing or getting flour in your face and everywhere else!
Once it is all mixed, you are going to make it into a dough ball and let it chill for about 3 hours. You can also do this the night before you want to bake.
I wrap it in parchment and then put it into a ziploc bag, however, you can also just wrap it up in plastic wrap.
3 hours later…
Rolling & Cutting Out Gingerbread
Tilly sprung into action! In fact, she went to the fridge like a timer and exclaimed, “Dough!”. So we got it out and she and Bea each got a chunk to roll and cut.
Sister teamwork was in full swing!
Tilly then realized this was food. A cookie in the making, of all things, so…
She did the unthinkable. She ate a piece of raw dough! So I helped her remove the evidence of that by putting her cookie cutouts on a tray and into the oven.
Which resulted in….
Tilly must have missed the memo that there is no crying in baking! Her best friend, Lukas, tried to cheer her up. She really wanted these cookies! All was right again once they cooled and she got to eat them!
When your dough is properly chilled you will want to roll it out. The thickness will depend on if you want a crisper cookie or a thicker, softer one. I usually divide the dough into two batches for rolling. You will want a well floured surface so the dough does not stick.
Then use the cookie cutters of your choosing and get to work!
When placing on a parchment lined baking sheet, remember to give them room to puff up.
Don’t worry if there is flour left on any of the cutouts. This will bake off.
Your thickness will be a factor in your cooking time. These cookies only took 7 minutes.
Remember to cool your cookies completely before icing them! A cookie rack is perfect.
Giant Gingerbread Cookie
For the second half of dough I used a knife to cutout the large Christmas tree cookie. That cookie took about double the time to bake, as it was much larger. As you can see, there was a lot of texture to the Christmas Tree. I wanted this so it had that “bark” effect, however, you can have it smooth if you would like. To cut this, I first did a rough drawing on the surface of the tree before cutting with the sharp point of a pairing knife.
Buttercream Frosting & Royal Icing
These cookies need to cool completely before icing. For the gingerbread men I made a simple royal icing, which I will give you a recipe for near the end of this post. The recipe I used was from Joy of Baking. For the tree I used my Ultimate Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. I then used my cake decorating tool to get the effects I wanted. The ornaments are chocolate covered sunflowers. The pearl strings I used a pointy tweezer to place each edible bead.
When using Royal icing it is important to note that it dries very quickly, so you must use it right after making it. Then it actually takes a while to dry on the cookies. Royal icing uses either pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder, that you can buy in your local grocery store.
Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- pinch of freshly ground pepper. When using a mill, 4 grinds will do
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a stand mixer with your paddle attachment, cream butter and coconut oil. Then add brown sugar and cream until fluffy. Then add your egg and vanilla. Cream for a few more minutes before pausing your mixer to add the molasses. Don’t forget to use cooking spray on your measuring cup to get all that molasses! Once blended, use the stir setting of your mixer to incorporate flour mixture (which will be a whisked mixture of the flour, salt, spices, and baking powder and baking soda).
- Once mixture is ready, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Take out and separate into two batches. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get your baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Roll your dough onto a well floured surface and to your desired thickness. Remember that if you want crisper cookies to go thinner; for softer cookies go thicker. Baking time will be adjusted for the thickness.
- For my gingerbread men the baking time was 7 minutes. For the large cookie Christmas tree it was about 15 minutes.
- Let cool completely on your cookie racks.
- Decorate with either royal icing or my Ultimate Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Each way will give you beautiful results and be delicious!
Royal Icing from Joy of Baking
Use the recipe linked above and omit the almond extract.
As always, if you have any questions, send me an email!
Interested in some of the items I used?