Mmmm, my apartment smells like molasses. I’m pretty excited about brown sugar and butter month. I mean Christmas cookie month. I think that cookies are the PERFECT treat. I like cakes and pies and muffins are all great, but cookies have a wonderful simplicity that makes them easy to snack on without the fuss of plates and forks, and they’re still packed with flavor and balance. So yeah, this month is going to be pretty sweet for me (hah!).
So, I looked it up. Gingerbread cookies and gingersnaps are pretty similar. When I set out on this cookie recipe, I really wanted to make gingersnaps so I could have a spicy crisp to dip in my tea, but I wanted to be able to play with some festive shapes too. Basically, gingersnaps are made with molasses instead of the gingerbread’s sugar, and they’re baked longer to give them more of a snappy crispness. But, who said I follow rules all that well? No one said that. What I’m calling gingerbread is made with molasses, and have a pretty respectable snap to them. I decided these are gingerbread because I found more often than not, gingerbread cookies are cut into shapes while gingersnaps generally stay round with a little sweetness sprinkled on top and some yummy cracks throughout. Well, I want to make a more classic looking gingersnap in the future, so I’m officially declaring these gingerbread to save the gingersnap recipe for later. Capisce?
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups (430oz) gluten free flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Start by combining flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, salt) in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
Cream together softened butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer on low. Scrape the sides once or twice to make sure everything gets mixed.
Add the egg and molasses to the bowl of the stand mixer and combine (scraping the sides again). It won’t totally come together. It will look like some disgusting gloopy mess. Shame on you. Just kidding. That’s what happens when you try to mash egg and molasses together.
Add the dry ingredients (flour + spices) to the stand mixer bowl and mix on low, scraping periodically, until a dough forms. Yay!
Easy, right? The dough will be pretty soft, so divide the dough into roughly three equal parts and cover each piece in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Once the dough has chilled, working with one section at a time, knead the dough on a surface dusted lightly with extra flour or cornstarch (I prefer cornstarch). The kneading process will warm up the dough enough to become workable. Equipped with a rolling pin, roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick. You may want to dust your rolling pin with flour as well so the dough doesn’t stick. Cut your desired shapes and move to a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper. The cookies don’t really spread, so as long at they aren’t touching each other, you can pretty much just pack them in. After the cookie sheet is filled up, place the tray in the freezer to set up while you preheat the oven to 350°F. I preheat and chill at the same time since by the time the oven is ready, the cookies should be fairly solid. The chilling process helps them maintain their shape in the oven.
Place your chilled cookies in the oven for 12-14 minutes.
During these 12 minutes, prep your next tray with more cookie shapes and let chill in the freezer until the first batch comes out. Do this until all dough is used.
Allow cookies to cool for at least 20 minutes before you try decorating.
In a small bowl, simply stir 2 tbsps of milk into 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. This will create a stiff icing (but not as stiff as royal icing) that you can spoon or pipe onto your cookies.
I highly recommend making with kids so you don’t feel self-conscious about piling on every color and shape of sprinkle on top. Have fun!