spicy & incredible gingerbread cookies

last year i made gingerbread men from a random recipe off all-recipes. they were…fine. with enough royal icing anything could be okay, right? so this year, i did a little more research and of course, marth stewart saved the day. these cookies are spicy and delightful. the lemon in the icing is a perfect complimenting flavor. if you are a non-believer, this recipe will make you seriously reconsider your viewpoint.

this recipe makes approximately 7 dozen cookies, so plan carefully. i was lucky because i happen to be going to 2 potlucks, a cookie party and seeing a friend who hadn’t made any holiday cookies yet – all in one week. i also didn’t bake all the dough at once, so that whenever i was bringing cookies, i rolled them out and baked them fresh. it’s the little things.

SPICY GINGERBREAD COOKIES (from Martha Stewart)
6 C flour, plus more for work surface
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C packed dark-brown sugar
4 t ground ginger
4 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground cloves
1 t finely ground pepper
1 1/2 t coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 C unsulfured molasses

sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.

place butter and brown sugar into a mixer bowl and with the paddle attachment, beat until fluffy. add in spices, salt, eggs and molasses – in that order, making sure each ingredient is fully incorporated before adding the next one.

then on low speed, add in flour mixture and mix until just combined. divide dough into 3 equal sections – wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. overnight is okay too!

when you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. using the cookie cutter of your choice (my snowflakes were about 3.5 inches across). give the cookies about 1 inch between them on the baking sheet. bake for 12-14 minutes until edges were slightly browned. they cookies will be slightly chewy with a crispy edge. SO GOOD.

ROYAL ICING
2 large egg whites
4 cups, sifted, powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon

beat egg whites until about the midway point between softs peaks and firm peaks. add sugar and lemon juice and beat until fully incorporated. if the icing is too thin, add more sugar. if the icing needs thinning, add more egg whites. you will love the lemon tang of this icing!

decorate cookies however you wish. let the icing set for at least an hour before stacking.

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sugar cookies 2 ways + a GIVEAWAY (winner announced)

congrats, lynne!!! you’re the winner of the holiday recipe book+gift card!!!

i have been baking A LOT of cookies and other goodies this holiday season, but sometimes nothing hits the spot like a really good sugar cookie. iced sugar cookies are kind of the ultimate christmas treat. there are many recipes out there and after going through the good, the bad and the ugly – i do believe i have found a keeper. thank you, rae danneman of bourbon & lace and mighty swell (co-owner with the ever lovely meghan of high plains thrifter) fame for sharing the recipe!

these cookies are light, a little flakey, a little chewy and totally wonderful. i have to admit, i made one modification – i added some freshly grated lemon zest. it adds a a very subtle flavor and fun surprise to every bite.

i went 2 routes when it came down to assembling these babies. number 1) royal icing and sprinkles. who doesn’t love decorating cookies that way, right? i kept it simple with white+white sanding sugar. i LOVE the sparkling white cookies. especially since it is woefully brown outside right now, shamefully so, even – for december in MN.

i hate to play favorites, but route number 2 is a bit of a stroke of genius. pairing these lovely cookies with NUTELLA. nutella sandwich sugar cookies!!! so much cookie perfection, it’s crazy.

THE FAMOUS DANNEMAN SUGAR COOKIES
1 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
2 T milk
2 t vanilla
3 3/4 C flour
1 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
*optional: 2 T lemon zest

in a bowl, whisk together all the try ingredients, set aside. use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer and cream (on medium speed) together the butter and sugar until fluffy. (on low speed) then add the eggs, one at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated before adding the second one. next, add the milk and vanilla. lastly, add the flour, slowly, until just mixed in. divide the dough in two pieces, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour. i left it overnight.

preheat oven to 350. roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out to desired shapes. bake for about 12 minutes (keep an eye out – you want the edges to be JUST golden).

decorate with (lemon-y) royal icing
or nutella! (if you do the nutella, let the sandwiches sit for a few hours before eating. the nutella will soak in and soften the cookies a little bit. it makes for a sublime eating experience)


THE GIVEAWAY:
i’m going to give one lucky reader a copy of the Mighty Swell Holiday Recipes book that contains the sugar cookie recipe and many more fabulous family recipes shared by various mighty swell vendors AND you will also get a $10 gift card to spend as you please at the next sale, which is THIS THURSDAY 12/22 from 5-8pm. a little birdie told me there will be free gift wrapping and possibly some other fun specials.

*no worries if you can’t make it this week, stay tuned to the mighty swell facebook for the dates of future sales*

TO ENTER:
leave me a comment telling me about your favorite holiday treat. it’s that simple! you have until 3pm wednesday 12/21 to enter. a winner will be chosen randomly and announced wednesday night.