Gingerbread Cookies on a Stick

Sure, I could make this a touching post about how my just-turned 7-year-old requested “gingerbread cookies on a stick, like last year” for her birthday treat.

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I could make an analogy about how she’s the right mix of sugar and spice, just like these cookies.

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I could tell how much fun we all have decorating the cookies – both gingerbread boys and girls – for her party.

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I could elaborate on how she’s embraced her mid-December birthday and, of her own accord, established a birthday party tradition in which she and her friends each decorate a gingerbread house.

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I could share how Jan Brett’s books Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends are wonderful tie-ins.

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But, really, I can’t. Not when my husband offers up this gem:

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“Sh*t. Everybody is gonna be able to catch me with this stick up my *ss.” — The Gingerbread Man

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At least he’s happy

Gingerbread Cookies on a Stick

adapted from The Best New Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

makes about 2 dozen

  • 3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • ¾ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • lollipop sticks (from craft or baking supply store)
  • royal icing (see below)
  • sparkling sugar, sprinkles, M&M’s, raisins, and chocolate chips for decorating

1. In bowl of stand mixer, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt at low speed until combined. Add butter pieces and mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined.

2. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll ¼-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

4. Remove one dough sheet from freezer. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into gingerbread people and transfer to prepared cookie sheets and gently press lollipop stick into each one. (Yes, it’s ok to bake the sticks and, no, they won’t catch on fire!) Set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. If you’d like, press raisins, chocolate chips, or M&M’s into center of cookies for “buttons”.

5. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to bottom halfway through baking time. Do not overbake or you’ll end up with yucky, dry cookies. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then let cool to room temperature on wire rack.

6. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 4 and 5. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used. Because flour isn’t added during rolling, dough scraps can be rolled and cut as many times as necessary without fear of toughening the cookies.

6. Decorate as desired using royal icing, sparkling sugar, sprinkles, and candy. Store soft gingerbread in a wide, shallow airtight container or tin with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper between each cookie layer. These cookies are best eaten within one week.

Royal Icing with a Hint of Lemon

  • 1 egg white
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1¾ cup powdered sugar (or more)
  • squirt bottle, piping bag, or Ziploc baggie

Beat egg white, lemon juice, and lemon zest together. Add powdered sugar until you reach stiff peaks. Add more powdered sugar if icing is too thin. Fill squirt bottle (my preference), piping bag, or Ziploc bag with one end of corner cut to outline gingerbread cookies. Be sure to keep icing covered or it will quickly dry out.

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