This is one of my all-time FAVORITE Christmas cookie recipes - EVER. I wasn't even a gingerbread fan until I made these! I found the recipe years ago from Cook's Illustrated, and now again, in Cook's Country. I add the zest of an orange, for that something special, but it's optional. You truly won't believe how insanely delicious these cookies are. I love to dip the feet and hands of the gingerbread "men" in chocolate -- the sweet and spicy combo of the chocolate and cookie is amazing! You won't be sorry you made these in July! I guarantee you'll be making them again in December, if not sooner!
Makes about 24 cookies.
- 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) of dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup of molasses
- zest of 1 orange (optional)
- 2 tbsp milk
Before You Begin:
Let the melted butter cool before adding it in step 1, or the dough will be too sticky to work with. Because we roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper (no additional flour is added), the scraps can be rerolled and cut as many times as necessary. The cookies can be stored in a wide, shallow airtight container with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper between each layer for up to 3 days. Plan ahead: The dough needs to rest for at least an hour before rolling.
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk of dough at a time, roll dough between 2 large sheets of parchment to 1/4-inch thickness. (Keep second disk of dough refrigerated while rolling out first.) Peel off top parchment sheet and use 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Peel away scraps from around cookies and space cookies 3/4 inch apart on prepared sheets. Repeat rolling and cutting steps with dough scraps. (Depending on your cookie cutter dimensions, all cookies may not fit on sheets and second round of baking may be required. If so, let sheets cool completely before proceeding.)
Bake until cookies are puffy and just set around edges, 9 to 11 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before decorating and serving.