Christmas Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies

 

I think in most households, decorating Christmas cookies means the start of the holiday season. I say "most households" because as far as I can remember, I don't think I did that. Not that I'm holding any grudges or anything, I promise! Maybe it just didn't occur to me as a child that that was a thing that I could do? Or maybe I did decorate cookies when I was really young and I just have no memory of it. Mom and Dad might correct me on this one.


Whether or not I decorated cookies in my childhood, I am making up for it now. I spent hours decorating so. many. cookies. The ones in these photos are maybe one-quarter of what I actually made. These are the ones that ended up really nice. So many ended up not so nice. I tried to write cute little things on the cookies, like "Merry Christmas", "Let it snow", and "Baby, it's cold outside" in fancy script but maaaaan oh man was that a fail.



And can you believe that I've never been part of a cookie exchange? I've never even been invited to one! That's probably because my friends are not really into baking like I am. I'd be great at it though - both the making and the eating. 


I was inspired by the folks at Patience Brewster Inc. to be a part of their Online Cookie Exchange. I was super excited! Patience Brewster makes handcrafted and unique ornaments plus lots of other accessories, cards, etc. Their Christmas ornaments are definitely their specialty, though. 


The great thing about this cookie exchange is that everyone is invited! Anyone can makes cookies, put in on their blog, and all you have to do is say that you got the inspiration from Patience Brewster Inc.! 

So put some Christmas music on, get some hot chocolate, and start making your cookies!





Sugar Cookies

227 g unsalted butter, room temperature
192 g sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
325 g all-purpose flour

Gingerbread Cookies

312 g all-purpose flour
3 g baking soda
3 g salt
3 g ground cinnamon
3 g ground ginger
2 g ground allspice

171 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g brown sugar
115 g granulated sugar
37 g eggs
15 g molasses

Royal Icing

400 g icing sugar
50 g egg whites


For the sugar cookies, combine the butter and sugar together and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side and the bottom of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. 

Gradually add the flour in 3 additions, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

For the gingerbread cookies, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the butter and both the sugars together and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side and the bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and molasses and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. 

Gradually add the flour in 3 additions, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use whatever cutter you like to cut as many cookies as possible. Gently gather the scraps together and reroll one time, cutting out the cookies and discarding the scraps.

Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Smaller cookies will bake faster, bigger cookies will take longer. Check the cookies often as they overbake easily.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the cookies using an offset spatula. Allow the cookies to completely cool before decorating.

For the royal icing, combine the powdered sugar and egg whites in the bowl on an electric mixer. Beat with a paddle for a few minutes. You will need two consistencies of icing - flooding and piping. Take about 2/3 of the icing out of the bowl, place it in a separate container and cover the surface with a damp paper towel. This is your flooding icing. Beat the rest of the icing until it has a thicker consistency. Put into a separate container and cover the surface with a damp paper towel. This is your piping icing.

When ready to pipe, transfer some of the icing to small piping bags.

For the flooded cookies, use the thicker consistency of icing to pipe a border. Let it dry completely before using the thinner icing to flood the cookies. You don't have to fill in every nook and cranny with the icing. Use a toothpick to help push the icing into place. Let this dry completely, at least an hour. When they have dried, use the thicker consistency of icing to pipe the details. While it is still wet, place the cookie icing-side down into a shallow container of sanding sugar. Shake the container a little, then gently take the cookie out and  let it dry completely. If you want to put on a dragee, do so right after you dip the cookie in the sugar.

For the piped cookie, use the thicker consistency of icing to pipe a border. While it is still wet, place the cookie icing-side down in a shallow container of sanding sugar. Shake the container a little, take the cookie out, and brush off any sugar the has stuck to the cookie (sugar granules with mess you up when piping later). Let it dry completely. Using the thicker consistency again, pipe your design. If you want to put on a dragee, do so while the icing is still wet. Let everything dry completely.

Feel free to do your own designs and decorate however way you like.