Gingerbread People Holiday cookie projects: White snowflakes, dreidel trios, and ornaments

Notes: Whether you're decorating a tree, a room or a table during the holidays, these long-lasting cookies bring sparkle, color and the[ feeling of warmth that no store-bought ornament can provide into your house. Making them is an ideal Saturday project to usher in the holidays. String the finished cookies on stout wire and run them along your banisters, mantels, or coil them up into a wreath or centerpiece. Light candles to catch the twinkle in the sugar crystals. One batch of dough will give you about two dozen cookies; if you plan to double the recipe, make two separate batches. You can add color to the cookies by coloring the icing or by using white icing, then dusting the icing with colored sugar before it sets. After it sets, knock off the excess. The latter gives a prettier, more sparkly effect. Strangely, both cold milk and hot whiskey toddies go perfectly with spicy gingerbread. I heard of a guy who will make you any shaped cookie cutter you want out of copper and you can order them online.]

Total Time:
55 min
Prep:
45 min
Cook:
10 min

Yield:
24 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • Gingerbread:
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Royal Icing:
  • 2 cups or more confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon egg white*
  • Decorating:
  • Raisins, as needed
  • White chocolate chips, as needed
  • Various food coloring
  • Various colors of sanding sugar
  • Equipment: Pastry bag fitted with small, round tip; cookie cutters in the shape of gingerbread men and women, dreidels, Christmas tree ornaments, and snowflakes; wire, string or yarn for stringing
Directions

Make the Gingerbread: In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix. Add the eggs and mix. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together. Working in batches and mixing after each addition until just combined, add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Shape the dough into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease 1 or 2 cookie sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with desired cookie cutters.

To make the Royal Icing: In a mixer, blend the confectioners' sugar, milk, and egg white together. Add more sugar to get a pipe-able consistency.

To make Gingerbread Men and Women: Use gingerbread man and woman cookie cutters and cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. Decorate them with raisins and white chocolate chips for eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons down the front. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, add some festive colors to your icing with food coloring and lay out colored sugars in small glass bowls with spoons. Using a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe a few colorful borders or white borders and coat with sanding sugar. When set, add more lines of icing in white.

To make snowflakes: Use a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make holes in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the holes will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Using only white icing and a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe thin lines from the center of the cookie out to the points, like spokes of a wheel. Connect the spokes with thin lines between them, making a spiderweb effect to give it the look of a snowflake. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

To make ornaments: Use any holiday-themed cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make holes in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the holes will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Meanwhile, color some of your icing in festive colors with food coloring, or use colored sugars. Using a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe a few colorful borders and decorations on the cookies. When set, add more lines of icing in white. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

To make dreidel trios: Use a dreidel cookie cutter and cut out 3 cookies. Lay 1 on a greased sheet pan. Fanning out at an angle, with the handles overlapping at the top, lay 2 more dreidels next to the first one (it will look like a paper-doll effect). The handle is now 3 layers thick; press on it gently to thin it slightly and make it larger. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps as needed.

If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make a hole in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the hole will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Color some of your icing blue with food coloring, or use blue colored sugar and white icing together. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip, pipe Hebrew letters or stars of David on the cookies' faces. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

Contains Raw Eggs: The Food Network Kitchen suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.


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