It’s that time of year again! The real start of holiday baking.

I can always tell when the holidays get here based on my contents of my pantry. Today, I counted not one, not two, not even three, but seven – SEVEN – bags of chocolate chips. I know chocolate chip cookies aren’t really a holiday cookie, but they’re one of my favorite cookies to gift because they’re such a classic. Around this time of year, I consider it a pantry staple so I pick up a bag every time I’m at the grocery, which explains how I have a couple pounds of chocolate in my fridge. And of course they’re all different brands – Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, Nestle – and different types of chocolate – milk, dark, semi, and bittersweet. Live like there’s no tomorrow, AM I RIGHT??

Cookie cutters and chocolate chips

You know you’re a baker when you have one drawer full of cookie cutters and another full of chocolate chips

But I digress. Chocolate chip cookies are among my favorite to gift, but gingerbread cookies are probably my favorite to eat this time of year. They’re full of flavor but aren’t too sweet or heavy, so they’re a great light cookie for snacking on.

Gingerbread Cookies
From Baking Illustrated

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 34 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut ino pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. In a food processor, process the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds (Or use a pastry cutter). With the machine running, gradually add the molasses and milk; process until the dough is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass.
  2. Scrape the dough onto a work surface; divide it in half. Working with one portion at a time, flatten into a disc and place between large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment layers, stack on a baking sheet and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
  4. Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer, place on the work surface. For thick, chewy cookies, keep dough at 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. For thin and crispy cookies, roll the dough thinner and cut out into desired shapes.
  5. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until cookies have puffed very slightly. Do not overbake. Cool on cookie sheet for two minutes, then move onto wire rack.
  6. Store in airtight container.

These cookies are great soft and chewy or thin and crispy. For the crispy cookies, make sure you let them cool completely before storing them – you don’t want to store them when they’re still warm because the moisture will prevent them from really crisping up.

To keep them thick and chewy, do not, do not, overbake them. Since the dough is a brown color, you can’t rely on looks to tell when these cookies are done. Set a timer for these and check them periodically.

If you do happen to overbake them, no worries! Cut a hole in the top and turn it into an ornament for your Christmas tree!

Gingerbread cookies

Life’s too short for ordinary cookie cutters

Mustache cookie

I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later

Gingerbread Cookies

Or you could go with regular shapes – these would be great for cookie sandwiches

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