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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