Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the spicy-sweet aroma of gingerbread wafting through my home. As soon as December rolls around, I dig out my treasured gingerbread cookie recipe. I’ve been baking these gingerbread cookies for years and sharing them with friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. I’ve been developing this recipe for about 14 years and I’ve tweaked it over the years to get the perfect balance of flavors. The spices, browned butter, brown sugar and molasses combine for a cookie that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Decorate them simply with some royal icing or go all out with gumdrops, candy canes and other goodies—these cookies can handle it!
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: Sharing with friends and family
Everyone always asks me for the recipe when they taste these cookies, so I’m excited to finally share it here. Read on for all the details on how to make gingerbread cookies from scratch. I’ve also included some tips I’ve learned along the way for rolling and cutting out perfect cookies, getting that sought-after crackly top and packing them for gift-giving. No matter what you’ve got planned—cookie exchanges, holiday parties or just a cozy night in—these gingerbread men will fill your kitchen with the scents of the season.
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: Ingredients
– 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking soda
– 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
– 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1⁄2 sticks)
– 2 tablespoons ground ginger
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 2 pinches cayenne pepper
– 1 1⁄4 cups packed dark brown sugar
– 1⁄4 cup molasses
– 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
– 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: Instructions
1. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan often, until the foaming subsides and the butter takes on a nutty brown color, about 2 to 4 minutes.
3. Transfer the browned butter to a large bowl. Whisk in the ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and cayenne. Let cool for 2 minutes.
4. Whisk in the brown sugar, molasses and grated fresh ginger until thoroughly combined. Next, whisk in the egg and extra yolk.
5. Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. The dough will be quite thick.
6. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
7. Adjust two oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Divide the chilled dough in half. Roll out one portion to 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
9. Use gingerbread cookie cutters to cut out shapes from the dough. Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.
10. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, then switch the pans between racks and bake until set and cracked on top, about 8 minutes more. The cookies will be soft coming out of the oven but will crisp up as they cool.
11. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before icing or decorating.
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: Tips for Making Perfect Gingerbread Cookies
– Chill the dough thoroughly before rolling for easiest handling. If it warms up and gets sticky as you work, pop back into the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes.
– Flour the work surface, rolling pin and cookie cutters lightly but don’t overdo it. Too much extra flour can result in tough cookies. This year I am buttering a cool quartz counter and rolling with a wooden roller from Crate and Barrel. Just oil the wooden roller with olive oil to keep it from sticking to the dough.
– Roll gently and rotate the pin often to prevent sticking and uneven thicknesses.
– Dip cookie cutters in flour between cuts for clean edges. Reroll scraps once for tender cookies.
– Let cookies cool completely before decorating. Royal icing and other toppings will set up best on cooled cookies.
– Store gingerbread cookies layered between parchment or wax paper in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: The History of Gingerbread
Gingerbread has been around for many centuries. It originated in Europe, likely brought over from the Middle East as Europeans returned from their travels and crusades. The term is somewhat broad and can refer to both sweet cookie-like gingerbread and a more cake-like gingerbread. Food historians agree that its roots can be traced back to a honey cake enjoyed during ancient Greek and Roman times.
By the 11th century, European monks were known to bake and sweeten gingerbread with honey. The honey likely helped preserve the bread, allowing it to be stored for longer periods. As spices became more readily available, ginger was introduced. Over time, recipes evolved to include ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander and pepper.
Gingerbread became especially popular in Germany, credited as being perfected by German bakers as early as the 1400s. Cities like Nuremberg became well-known for the quality of their gingerbread. Bakers formed guilds, implementing strict regulations to preserve secret family recipes. Gingerbread became an art form, with elaborate honey cakes molded into fanciful shapes, scenes and figures. Nuremberg was actually nicknamed the “Gingerbread Capital of the World” and is still renowned for its gingersnaps and gingerbread.
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: Molds
As gingerbread’s popularity rose, specialty baking molds emerged allowing people to make gingerbread men, women, animals, houses and more at home. German fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel helped further popularize images of houses made entirely of delicious gingerbread.
Gingerbread came to America with British colonists who had their own treasured recipes and traditions involving the spicy treat. Molasses became a more accessible sweetening agent than honey. And with rising immigration, gingerbread’s inclusion grew in American life and cuisine.
Today, gingerbread remains a staple dessert across Europe and North America during the winter months. Whether as cake, cookies or even a latte flavoring, it’s a popular way to infuse warmth into cold weather fare.
Rob’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: Conclusion
My gingerbread cookies are soft like cake on the inside with crackly tops and have just the right blend of spices. I hope you’ll enjoy making them as much as I do during this time of year! I hope baking these gingerbread cookies creates new holiday memories with your friends and family. As the gingerbread bakes, the molasses, cinnamon, ginger and other spices will fill your kitchen with a delicious aroma. Let the smells wafting from the oven warm your heart and home, just as gingerbread has been doing for families across many generations. My goal is for this gingerbread cookie recipe to become a beloved tradition in your household as well. Pull out the cookie cutters each year and watch as the cookies bring joy to everyone gathered around the kitchen. The taste of gingerbread never fails to inspire feelings of comfort, nostalgia and childlike wonder.
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