2 ½ c
plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
firmly packed golden brown sugar
unsulfured dark molasses
royal icing, sugar pearls, and other sprinkles for decorating
These sweet gingerbread cutouts, which are especially fun to make with kids, top my holiday cookie list. To hang the cookies as decorations, cut a small opening near the top of each cookie before baking them and then thread a ribbon through the opening once the cookies have cooled. You can use any of your favorite cookie cutters with this dough. Large stars or hearts would be a nice variation and would make a lovely edible garland.
- Sift the flour, ginger, cloves, and baking soda into a bowl and then whisk in the salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy. Add the golden syrup, molasses, and egg and beat until combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated and the dough starts to come together.
- Have ready a large sheet of plastic wrap. Gather up the dough, which will be fairly soft, place it on the plastic wrap, and wrap it tightly, shaping it into an even disk 3⁄4 to 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the dough overnight. The next day, unwrap the dough, cut the disk in half, and then rewrap half and return it to the refrigerator.
- Position two oven racks, evenly spaced, in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- On a large, lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough about 1⁄8 inch thick. Using the cookie cutter(s), cut out as many cookies as possible and carefully transfer them to a prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Gather up the dough scraps, reroll, cut out more cookies, and add them to the sheet. Refrigerate the filled baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling the second baking sheet and refrigerating for 10 minutes.
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until firm to the touch and lightly golden, switching the baking sheets between the racks about halfway through the baking time. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely.
- Divide the icing evenly among three small bowls. Leave the icing in the first bowl white. Color the icing in the second bowl red. Add a few drops of water to the icing in the third bowl to thin to flooding consistency and then color the icing green. Fit each pastry bag with a piping tip. Fill the pastry bags with the smaller tips with white and red icing and the pastry bag with the larger flooding tip with the green icing.
- Start by piping one or two wiggly white lines toward the end of the legs and arms on each cookie. Then, using the green icing, pipe pants and suspenders or a skirt and a bow, depending on the cutter you used. Pipe three red buttons and top each button with a sugar pearl. Pipe two white dots for eyes and top each with a candy eyeball. Finally, pipe a red smiling mouth. Let the cookies stand for about 20 minutes, until completely dry, before serving.