Merry Gingerbread Cookies

Hello there, friends! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? The last two weeks were nothing short of a blur as I went through finals and my work and social schedules crescendoed all at once. Monday morning of this week was my first day with nothing other than work. I’m not going to lie, it was nothing short of delightful to not have to finish up papers and take tests.

With classes finally over, I immediately had to jump into Christmas shopping as I hadn’t had a chance before now, and I interspersed it with baking. Lots of baking. One thing I have really missed this fall was getting into the kitchen and trying new recipes.

My nieces were eager helpers cutting out the cookies…

When I was in Boston with family over Thanksgiving, my cousin made everyone a personalized gingerbread cookie to welcome us. Not only was it a sweet welcome (no pun intended) (okay, maybe a little intended πŸ˜‰ ), but you guys, it was the best gingerbread I have ever had. Ever. It was soft, chewy, and the spices came through without being overpowering. In short, it was perfect.

My cousin’s Thanksgiving cookies, personalized for everyone visiting.

Knowing that I needed to bake this week for work and a fellowship with a small group, I decided to try my hand at these cookies. I’m rather pleased that they actually turned out like my cousin’s: soft, puffy, chewy, yummy. (Note: I’m not bragging when I say that – I am not always a successful cookie maker and my cookies tend to turn out flat sometimes). Of course I can’t leave well enough alone and made a slight change to the recipe. The original is here, including a recipe for icing. My slightly altered version is below, sans icing recipe because (gotta be honest) I just used high-quality tube icing from the store to save time.

New England Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon salt (I used kosher)

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening

1 cup sugar

1 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 large egg

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon baking soda

To Make:

Combine 5 1/4 cups flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in medium bowl; whisk well to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and shortening in large bowl until blended. Add 1 cup sugar, molasses, and lemon peel and beat until smooth. Beat in egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir 2 teaspoons water and baking soda in a small cup to combine, then add to butter mixture and blend. Add flour mixture in 2 additions. Stir in more flour 1/4 cup at a time until slightly firm dough forms (note: it will be very sticky!). Divide dough into three equal parts. Shape each into a disk, wrap disks and chill until firm enough to roll out, at least 2 hours. Trust me, it will need to chill thoroughly before you can cut out shapes!

Note: Can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated until needed. Soften slightly before rolling out.

Working with one disk at a time, roll out between two sheets of wax paper to 16×12 inch rectangle, occasionally lifting paper to smooth out wrinkles. Use cookies cutters to cut out shapes and peel away excess dough around cutouts. Flatten, wrap, and chill excess dough. Slide rimless baking sheet under waxed paper and chill until firm. Repeat process with remaining dough.

To bake: use a spatula to transfer cookies from paper onto baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart (they will spread!). Bake until darker at edges and just firm to the touch at the center, about 12 minutes (I started checking mine at 10 minutes – you don’t want to overbake these!). Cool on sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to rack and cool completely.

Note: Cookies can be cut out ahead of time and kept chilled until ready for baking.

Once cooled, have fun decorating with icing! They are also excellent eaten plain. You can’t go wrong either way… Enjoy!
Happy Baking, friends!

Until Next Time,

Shelbi

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