Holiday recipe: The ultimate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Bring out the cookie cutters — these holiday cookie staples pack a gingery punch.

“What is a holiday cookie plate without some decorated gingerbread cookies?” writes Dan Langan in his new cookbook, “Bake Your Heart Out: Foolproof Recipes to Level Up Your Home Baking” (Union Square & Co., $29.99). Langan is a baker, blogger, and Food Network host of “Dan Can Bake It.”

This recipe yields a dough that is easy to work with. It’s ready to roll and cut in an hour and bakes up chewy or crisp, depending on your taste and baking time. By substituting powdered milk for some of the flour, you can control how much the cookies spread while baking without making them tough. According to Langan, the spice level in this recipe is “fairly robust,” but if you think it’s too much, reduce the amount of ground ginger a tad or use a lot of royal icing to mellow the flavor.

Gingerbread Cut-out Cookies

This recipe yields approximately 30 large cookies.



12 tablespoons (112 stick/170 g) unsalted butter, cut into 12-inch cubes and set aside for 20 minutes

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 g) dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 cup (43 g) dry milk powder (blended if coarse)

1 tablespoon ginger powder

212 teaspoons cinnamon powder

14 teaspoons coarse salt

a half teaspoon baking soda

a quarter teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon clove powder

1/3 cup unsulfured molasses (125 g)

1 large egg yolk (reserve the egg white if using royal icing)

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

24 cup all-purpose flour (360 g)

Dust with confectioners’ sugar

Icing royale:

2 cups (240 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg white (see below for a Baker’s Note)

12 tsp vanilla extract


Combine the butter, brown sugar, milk powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine, then on medium for 2 minutes, or until a smooth, stiff paste forms.

Scrape down the bowl and paddle, then add the molasses, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix on low until combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the flour and mix on low until a crumbly dough forms. Scrape down the bowl and paddle once more, then mix for another 20 seconds or so, or until a rough dough forms. Knead the dough three or four times in the bowl to make a smooth dough.

Cut the dough in half and shape each half into a 1-inch-thick slab. Refrigerate for 1 hour after wrapping each dough slab in plastic wrap. (If the dough has been refrigerated for more than an hour, allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.)

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the center position. Use parchment paper to line two rimmed baking sheets.

To roll the dough, generously sprinkle a sheet of parchment with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick, moving it around on the parchment after each couple of rolling pin passes to keep it from sticking.

Cut out cookies with cookie cutters, pressing down firmly and fitting as many as possible onto your dough slab. Remove the scraps, then transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 12 inch between them. Roll out and cut the second portion of dough in the same manner as the first. Combine the scraps in a pile, pressing and kneading only a few times. Roll the scraps out again and cut out a few more cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time on the center rack. Bake soft cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the edges are just darkening. Bake for a minute or two longer, or until the edges are golden brown, for crisp cookies. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets, lightly gliding an offset spatula over the surface to smooth out any air bubbles.

Fill a piping bag with a small open tip with the icing and decorate the gingerbread as desired. Allow 1 to 2 hours for decorated cookies to dry before stacking or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Note from the Baker

In place of the egg white in the royal icing, two teaspoons meringue powder and two tablespoons cold water can be used. If you aren’t going to use your icing right away, cover it with a damp paper towel and a layer of plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to a week.

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