IFor the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing recipes that are perfect for creating holiday memories. We are all busy, but taking the time to bake cookies is a great way to slow down and get caught up in the spirit.
What says Christmas more than gingerbread? The smell alone is enough to put a smile on even the grumpiest of Scrooges in your life. They’re a great cookie to keep in jars on your kitchen counter for guests to enjoy.
Over the years I’ve added various flavours to my gingerbread dough, such as candied ginger or freshly cracked pepper for some heat, but the one below is for classic Gingerbread.
You can choose whatever shape you like, the variety of cookie cutters available out there is innumerable. This year, I chose a star – although it could also be seen as a snowflake. Regardless, both stars and snowflakes are perfect for the season!
For me, the star shape represents the true reason I celebrate Christmas. According to the biblical story, the Star of Bethlehem guided the three kings (or three wise men) to the newborn baby Jesus, who would one day grow up to become the savior of mankind. Hence, the star shape around Christmastime represents a shining feeling of hope for humanity.
Whatever reason you celebrate Christmas, these star shaped cookies are sure to bring some joy.
So call a friend you’ve been meaning to spend some time with, or bring the ingredients to your mother’s house and spend a few hours baking together – I’m sure they’d love it! You could even bake an extra batch to donate to a local community center or shelter.
Gingerbread Star Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup fancy molasses
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 recipe royal icing (see below)
Pearl sugar (optional)
In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; then beat in egg, molasses, water and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Stir into sugar mixture and mix well. Form into a round disk. Wrap and chill 1 hour.
Roll dough onto a large sheet of parchment paper. (prevents the dough from sticking to the counter) to 1/4-inch thickness. using a 3-inch wide star cookie cutter, cut into shapes. Use a flat spatula to carefully transfer cookies to parchment lined baking sheet; chill 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
While the first batch is baking, re-roll dough and cut out more cookies. If you are finding your dough is too sticky, chill for 10 minutes before re-rolling. If re-using the same baking sheets for each batch, make sure the pan has cooled completely before transferring your next batch of uncooked cookies.
Cookies can be stored covered at room temperature up to two weeks or frozen for one month.
The recipe makes 24 3-inch stars.
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 cup water, at room temperature
In large bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment beat all ingredients together on medium high speed for 5 minutes. Stop the machine and check the consistency. It should look a little bit like craft glue. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more water. If you mixture seems too thin, add more sifted confectioners’ sugar. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir before using. Cookies should be completely cooled before being iced.
Makes enough to ice 24 star cookies
Baker’s Notes: Cookies don’t need to be iced if you’re crunched for time, but if you’d like to give it a try, you’ll need to pick up some meringue powder, which replaces egg whites. You can find it a your local craft store – Michael’s is where I purchased mine. For tips on using royal icing, take a look at this blog post, and this instructional video. I topped the star cookies with Swedish pearl sugar, which is a coarse finishing sugar used to top cinnamon rolls, cookies ad pastries. The granules of sugar retain their shape and don’t melt in the oven. I brought back a couple boxes from Sweden last year but you can also order online – or simply use sprinkles instead.