The first and only time I ever made gingerbread cookies was years ago. The recipe I used was terrible and it ended up in the garbage. Recently, I came across the Ree Drummond’s recipe and thought I would give it a try. Ree is more commonly know as “The Pioneer Woman.” I tried to make her cookies as healthy as possible by using almost all organic ingredients and reducing the amount of salt by using unsalted butter. The only place I could find natural flavored maple extract was at Target. My local grocery store had artificial flavored maple extract and it wasn’t available at my local Whole Foods.
I have to say that Ree’s gingerbread cookie has the perfect blend of spices! It didn’t dawn on me that the cookie would be hard, as opposed to be crisp; but it has to been hard so that you can make all those pretty gingerbread houses during the holidays. My husband told me that he doesn’t like that particular cookie, but guess who was begging to eat more of them before they were decorated! Now, that is quite the endorsement coming from my picky husband!
- 6 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon organic ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup organic unsalted butter
- 1½ cups organic brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 tablespoon maple extract
- Mini M&Ms or decorations of your choice
- Using a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
- Using a mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Very slowly, add the molasses, making sure it is well-combined by scraping the sides of bowl several times while mixing. Add eggs and maple extract and mix thoroughly. Add flour in batches. (I found the cookie dough to be on the “dry” side).
- Cover dough in bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimal of 2 hours. (I did not need to refrigerate the dough, so I divided it half and made 2 “balls”).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of wax paper, until it is about ¼-inch thick. Using cookie cutters of your choice, cut shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake between 10 and 12 minutes, until cookies are baked through, but still soft. Be careful not to over bake, because the cookies will be hard. Cool cookies.
The recipe below is from Alton Brown of the Food Network. Don’t be alarm if the icing appears to be “tan” in color from the vanilla. As you add more sugar, the icing will get “whiter” in color. I also found it helpful to use a rubber band at the end of the pastry bag to keep the icing from “leaking” out. I have never made royal icing or used a pastry bag before, so these are my observations as a beginner!
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- Using a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy.
- Gradually add sugar at a low-speed, until blended and shiny in appearance.
- Turn up speed on mixer and beat until you get stiff, glossy peaks.
- Transfer icing to a pastry bag.