We’re still craving gingerbread — not the cute little cut-out men, trees, and bells, but the soft, thick, chewy rounds smeared with royal icing. This is serious gingerbread with spice and molasses in full force. Fight off the frigid temps and those winter blues!
Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured dark or light molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup coarse or granulated sugar
1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats; set aside.
2. Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Beat in the molasses, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. Add the egg and beat thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and beat until just incorporated.
4. Place the coarse or granulated sugar in a small bowl. Scoop 1-tablespoon portions of dough, form each into a ball, and roll each ball in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart, 12 cookies per sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass into the sugar and use it to gently press down on the each dough ball to make them about 1/2-inch thick.
5. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the edges of the cookies are firm and the centers are soft and puffy, 5 to 7 minutes more.
6. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and cool 3 minutes. Use a flat spatula to transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.
Royal Icing Ingredients
3 egg whites, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Royal Icing Procedure
Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before beginning. If you are concerned about ingesting raw egg whites, make sure that you buy pasteurized eggs to minimize risk.
1. In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer, place the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, beat all together on low speed until combined. You can use a hand mixer if you desire, but it will likely take longer for the icing to reach the right consistency.
2. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Restart the mixer and beat the mixture on medium speed until very thick, shiny, stiff and white. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
3. Check the texture to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. If you require a stiffer icing, add a little more powdered sugar at this point.
Note: Royal icing dries to a very hard consistency, and it will begin setting as soon as it is made. To prevent the icing from getting hard before you use it, thoroughly wet a paper towel and place it over the top of the icing in the bowl. It is very important to keep the icing covered.
4. Use a brush to apply royal icing to each cookie. Allow to completely dry.
Makes about 24 cookies
Storage: Store the baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Recipe Note: You can make the dough ahead of time and store the cookie dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can also be shaped into balls, frozen onto baking sheets until solid, then stored in resealable freezer bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. Roll the frozen balls in granulated sugar just before baking. Frozen cookies can be baked straight from the freezer but may need 1 to 2 minutes extra baking time.