One of my favorite holiday traditions is baking Gingerbread cookies a few days before Thanksgiving. I can’t remember the exact year this tradition began, only because I can’t remember a holiday season without it. However, judging from the home videos that show my little sister standing on a kitchen chair, her belly hanging over her thermal-underwear pajamas as she helped to roll out the dough, I’d say that it has been a long time. Maybe since I was as young as seven…
It’s a tradition that my sister and I have kept alive, even now that we’re adults. So even if the environment may have changed (now that we’ve set up our cinnamon and flour camp in my own, personal kitchen), it’s something that we continue to embrace every year. And to be completely honest, it just doesn’t feel (or smell) like Thanksgiving until we’ve baked up a batch of Gingerbread cookies just a few days before the holiday!
We’ve tried several recipes over the years, but this Pillsbury recipe (located in a holiday booklet that I purchased back in 2000) has always been our favorite. So we always go back to it, and we’ve stopped trying other recipes. We’re always left disappointed… This recipe just has that perfect crunch, and it has the most delicious balance of sweetness and holiday spices. So for 14 years, this has been it.
This recipe is our favorite!
I even used it for a cookie swap one year, and I was nearly overwhelmed by the amount of women who wanted a copy of the recipe afterward.
In years past, we’ve been rather creative (if ‘creative’ is an appropriate word for our creations) with our frosting décor. There was even that one year during which I had a case of Hawaii fever, and many of my gingerbread cookies were left with swimming trunks and bikinis. My sister even decorated a pirate.
But at the end of the day, the best way to eat these cookies is with a simple sprinkling of powdered sugar. (A few mini, chocolate chips as buttons never hurts anything, trust me on that). But keeping the cookies simple – so that you can really taste the molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves – is the best way to enjoy them.
Seriously, trust me! You won’t be at all disappointed!! 🙂
Gingerbread Cookies (Recipe from Pillsbury)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons milk
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Mini chocolate chips, if desired
1/2 cup powdered sugar
In large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter and molasses until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and milk. Stir in flour and all remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and 1/2 cup powdered sugar to form a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1/2 hour for easier handling.
Heat oven to 350°F. On floured surface, roll out portions of dough at a time. (The thinner the dough is rolled out, the crunchier the cookies will be). Cut with floured 2 1/2-inch gingerbread boy or girl cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, decorate cookie cutouts with chocolate chips for buttons.
Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Sprinkle powdered sugar over each cookie after cooled.