Gingerbread Scones

 Hello! How was your Christmas? I had a great time with my family in Texas. We decorated cookies, snuggled our beloved puppies (Stella, Mama Chiquita, and Haskell), and played many rounds of Gin Rummy. My sisters and I all cooked like crazy, and my sister-in-law was the world’s best soux chef. Oh, and we all rocked some sweet matching Snoopy pajamas. Yes, we are adults. But it’s Christmas, and Snoopy rules. It was so much fun–I am lucky to have family that is an absolute joy, rather than a chore, to visit. The weather was spring-like until Saturday night, when tornadoes tore through North Texas, bringing torrential downpours, hail, and snow in their wake. If you are reading from Texas, I hope you and those you hold dear are safe from harm and able to enjoy these last few days of 2015.

Now that I’ve bummed you all out, let’s get baking. I’ve made a lot of cookies in the last several weeks, and while I know cookies are synonymous with the holidays, I need a break. How about a coffee break? With Gingerbread Scones? Soft, spiced, not too sweet scones with a drizzle of vanilla glaze. They’re quick and simple–they can be on your table in less than an hour! They’re absolutely perfect for breakfasts this holiday week. Let’s get started. 

   Scones really are a breeze. The only real rule is to keep the butter and liquid ingredients very cold. This is what keeps the scones flaky and delicious. These start with whisking two tablespoons of molasses into cold half-and-half and then putting that in the fridge. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together some flour, gingerbread spices, dark brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Next, take some very cold butter and use a pastry blender to cut it into the flour mixture until it’s the size of peas. Take that half-and-half mixture you’ve been chilling and stir it in. Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Really, go crazy with the flour because the dough will be sticky. Flour your hands and gently shape the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Flour the blade of a chef’s knife, and then cut the disc into eight wedges. Remove them to a pan, brush with more half-and-half, and bake at 425F until they spring back when poked with your finger, about fifteen minutes. 

   These scones would be great by themselves, but gingerbread has to have icing as far as I’m concerned. There just has to be something to offset the spiciness of the ginger. Also, these scones aren’t very sweet, so they benefit from a touch of glaze. The glaze is very easy to whip up. Whisk together some confectioner’s sugar and salt, and then stir in some half-and-half and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle it over the cooling scones. I like to use a squeeze bottle, but a fork will do the trick. The glaze will start to set in just a few minutes and will be completely set in a couple of hours.These scones are best the day they’re made, but may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours. Unbaked scones may also be frozen for up to three months! I’ve written instructions in the recipe.

I hope you are enjoying this holiday week, and that you’ll make these Gingerbread Scones a part of your celebration! Now that it’s feeling more like winter in Texas and New York City, warm, spicy scones and a boatload of coffee will be your new favorite breakfast.  

Gingerbread Scones
adapted from Maple Scones from Dinner With Julie
makes 8 large scones

Scones:
3/4 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons molasses*
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces

Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line one baking sheet with parchment. Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper or parchment. Set aside.

Use a fork to whisk together molasses and 3/4 cup half-and-half. Set the mixture in the refrigerator.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender* to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the largest bits are the size of peas. Remove the half-and-half mixture from the refrigerator and pour it into the bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until it just comes together.

Turn dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Using floured fingertips, press dough into a large 1-inch thick disc. Use a floured chef’s knife* to cut the circle into 8 wedges. Remove wedges to prepared pan, setting them at least two inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with additional half-and-half. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they “bounce back” when pressed with your finger. Remove them to the cooling rack.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and salt with a fork. Whisk in half-and-half and vanilla until combined.* Drizzle cooling scones with glaze. Scones may be served immediately, or after the glaze sets (about one hour).

Scones are best the day they’re made, but will keep covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours. 

Gingerbread Scones may be frozen up to three months. Simply freeze unbaked wedges of dough on a lined sheet pan and pile them into a labeled freezer bag. When you are ready to bake, brush the tops of the frozen wedges with half-and-half and bake for 17-22 minutes, until they spring back when poked with your finger. Then glaze and enjoy!

Notes:

1. Use regular molasses, not blackstrap. I use Grandma’s Original or Brer Rabbit.
2. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you may use two forks.
3. Do not use a serrated knife.
4. If a thinner glaze is desired, add half-and-half by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached. If you’d like a thicker glaze, add confectioner’s sugar in 2 tablespoon installments until the desired consistency is reached.

Gingerbread Scones

White Chocolate Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies

 Hello from Austin! I am down here celebrating Christmas with my family at my older sister’s house. So far, I have gotten to play with my cute nephew-by-best-friend, do all the holiday food shopping at my beloved Central Market, sleep for nine hours straight (!), and have a very loud and raucous family caroling session in my Mom’s Acura.

Oh, and there have been puppies in costumes.  
But there have also been cookies. When my sisters, sister-in-law, and I went out for dinner last night, they all asked what was up next for the blog. After eleven holiday cookie recipes and not enough sleep, I said I needed some ideas for the twelfth recipe of Twelve Days of Cookies. My little sister, Eliot, brilliant woman that she is, suggested that I use cranberries and pistachios because a) they are delicious, and b) Christmas colors. She didn’t suggest the white chocolate because she likes to pretend it doesn’t exist (direct quote: “White chocolate is a lie and I refuse to acknowledge it!”) 😊 

White Chocolate Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies are simple to throw together, festive, and absolutely delicious. The cookie dough is very straightforward. Beat butter until it’s fluffy. Add in a cup of granulated sugar, followed by half-cup of light brown sugar. Now, 1 1/2 cups of sugar is a lot for the amount of flour in the recipe, but it makes for a super chewy final product. These cookies are a little on the thin side, but between the texture of the cranberries and the cookie itself, you’ll be in heaven. Next up are an egg and a yolk, followed by two teaspoons of vanilla for flavor. Beat in a mixture of flour, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, and salt. Fold in white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and pistachios. Cover the dough and chill it for two hours. This will allow the butter to solidify, and prevent the cookies from over-spreading. The chill is mandatory. I suggest you take the two hours to have your own raucous caroling session. 

Once the dough is nice and cold, scoop it by the tablespoon and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F. I decorated the tops with additional white chocolate chips, but this is purely for aesthetics and totally optional. Between the chewy cookie base and cranberries, crunchy pistachios, and melt-in-your-mouth white chocolate chips, these cookies need no adornments. And with the Christmas-colored mix-ins, White Chocolate Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies are perfect for your holiday entertaining. 

 This recipe concludes the Twelve Days of Cookies! Whew! If you need holiday cookie recipes, you’ve come to the right corner of the Internet. This month, I’ve posted recipes for Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Apple Cider Snaps, Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles {Gluten Free}, M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies, Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons, and Funfetti Sandwich Cookies. Let me know if you try any of these recipes this holiday season! I am on Instagram and Twitter @e2bakesbrooklyn. Use the hashtag #e2bakes so I can see all your wonderful cookies 😊

Merry Christmas!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Cookies
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter until it is fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in sugars, followed by egg and egg yolk, and then vanilla. Add flour mixture in two installments, combining completely. Fold in white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and pistachios. Cover dough and chill at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon, and roll into balls. Place at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden brown. Let them cool on the pans 5-7 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies keep well covered at room temperature for up to a week.

White Chocolate Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

 How is it December 22nd already? I have been so deep in the holiday rush that I just barely remembered to get to the airport this morning! Between the work, the parties, the shopping, and the work (did I mention the work?), I am mostly running on cookies and tinsel. But I am rallying with the eleventh recipe of Twelve Days of Cookies! Over the weekend, I looked through all my holiday cookie recipes thus far and realized I hadn’t used any of the five (yes, five!) jars of Christmas sprinkles that I purchased a month ago. When you love sprinkles as much as I do, that’s a travesty! So today, I am bringing you Funfetti Sandwich Cookies 😊 Two little cookies chock-full of sprinkles, sandwiched with a creamy filling. They are adorable, delicious, and simple as can be–just what we need this close to Christmas!

These cookies start with creaming room temperature butter. Now, I know letting butter come to room temperature can be tedious, especially when you’re short on time, but it’s necessary here to give us the softest, puffiest, chewiest cookies possible. So cream the butter, and then add granulated sugar and just a bit of light brown sugar. These cookies will not turn brown from the molasses, but instead have a little more chew and softness. After that, an egg and an egg yolk. The yolk is–you guessed it!–for chew. What can I say? I live for chewy texture. Then, add some vanilla, for chew. Just kidding! It’s for flavor. Now, beat in a mixture of all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. And finally, turn the mixer to low and add 1/2 cup of sprinkles. Just beat the dough long enough for the sprinkles to be evenly dispersed. Then cover the dough and chill it for 90 minutes while you wrap all your presents or make some artichoke dip or take a nap. Insider tip: choose the nap. Once the dough is good and cold, scoop it by the teaspoon, roll it into balls, and bake for 7-8 minutes. They should be cooked through but not golden brown, and so festive, it’s ridiculous.

Once the cookies are cooling, start on the filling. The filling is very simple. It only has five ingredients: shortening, confectioner’s sugar, salt, heavy cream, and vanilla. I know, I know, shortening is bad for us. If you are fundamentally opposed to using it, you may use an equal volume of room temperature butter. Beat together the filling, and then pipe or spread it onto the bottoms of half the cookies, and top with another cookie. Repeat until all your cookies are paired up. These Funfetti Sandwich Cookies keep extremely well covered at room temperature. They will still be soft, chewy and delicious a week after you make them (if they last that long)!

And that’s it! You now have some seriously adorable, festive holiday cookies that your family and friends will love! These will definitely be one of the first desserts to disappear off of your cookie trays–I know from experience 😊

Need more holiday cookie recipes? You’ve come to the right blog! Check out Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Apple Cider Snaps, Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles {Gluten Free}, M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies, and Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons! If you make any of my recipes this holiday season, use the hashtag #e2bakes, or find me on Instagram and Twitter @e2bakesbrooklyn!

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies
makes about five dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sprinkles*

Filling:
1/2 cup shortening*
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars until completely combined. Add egg and egg yolk, followed by vanilla. Turn the hand mixer to low, add in the flour mixture in two installments. Mix in sprinkles. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop the dough in one teaspoon increments. Roll dough into balls, and set them two inches apart on your prepared pans. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes, until the tops no longer look doughy. Let cool on the baking sheets for 7-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process until all dough has been used.

To make the filling, place the shortening in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed. Once it’s smooth, add in 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until smooth. Beat in heavy cream and vanilla. If you’d like the filling to be thicker, add an additional 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. If you would like to pipe the filling, place it in a plastic sandwich bag, and snip off a corner.

There are two options for filling.

1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
Notes:

1. Make sure to use jimmies (the cylindrical sprinkles). Do not use non-pareils (the little ball sprinkles), or they will bleed their color all through the cookie dough.
2. If you do not want to use shortening, you may use 1/2 cup room temperature butter.

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

Buttermilk Biscuits

 My grandmother (“Nonnie”) was a great woman. She had bright red hair. She was just as sweet as she could be, unless someone crossed her. And you didn’t cross her because she was scrappy–she kept a paddle on her kitchen wall. The woman had gumption, my absolute favorite quality in a human. She loved without ceasing. When she was very old and living in a nursing home, she would play Bingo for Almond Joys and then save all of them for my sisters and me. We would go visit her, and she would have a shoebox-full after a week!

Every Sunday morning, my mom, little sister, and I would go to church, while my dad went over to Nonnie’s house for breakfast. My sister and I were always very jealous. Nonnie may have let us have popcorn and Ovaltine for dinner (true story), but breakfast was sacred. There were eggs fried in bacon grease, Owens sausage patties, sliced tomatoes, and then, there were the biscuits. Nonnie made the best biscuits in the world, as far as my family were concerned. And if you showed up for breakfast and she had made chocolate gravy to go along with them, you knew you were special. She started making biscuits in her teens (if not earlier), and made them until she literally could not anymore. She never measured anything–she had made them so many times that she didn’t need to. It was all a pinch (pronounced “peench”) of this and a pinch of that. My mom tried to get her recipe, but as the pinch is not an accurate unit of measurement, it was impossible. When Nonnie passed in 2001, her biscuit recipe went with her. There were many biscuit-less years after she died. When I started baking a few years ago, I spent more than a year trying to replicate her recipe. That’s impossible, of course. No matter how good my biscuits are, I’m not a southern grandma. But all that effort paid off because I make a hell of a biscuit. Today would have been Nonnie’s 97th birthday, and since I can’t share her recipe with you, I’ll share mine.  
 Buttermilk Biscuits start with whisking together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. The sugar won’t make these sweet–it just balances out the saltiness. Next, take one stick of cold butter and slice it in half (two 4 tablespoon pieces). Take one half and cut it into four sticks. Cut the other half into thin pats. Cutting the butter into different shapes means that the butter in the biscuit dough won’t be in uniform pieces–this ensures flakiness. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of peas. Work quickly so the butter stays cold. Next, pour in 2/3 cup of cold buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until it is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. Does the dough look dry? Mine usually does at this point. Continue adding cold buttermilk by the tablespoon until the dough no longer looks dry. I usually end up using 3/4 cup of buttermilk total. Flour a surface and your fingertips. Don’t flour your palms–they radiate heat, while your fingertips stay cooler. Turn the dough onto the surface, and use your fingertips to pat it into a rectangle that is 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Fold it in half, and turn it one quarter turn. Pat it back into a 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold and turn it again. Repeat the folding and turning until you have done it four to six times–this is how we build layers! 

Now, flour a rolling pin. Use it to give the rectangle of dough three or four good thwacks (technical term). Flip the rectangle over, and thwack it again. Do this twice on each side. Why are we beating up our dough? We are knocking air into the layers. Have you ever heard of beaten biscuits? During the Depression, baking powder was rationed, but people still needed to make biscuits. Biscuit dough was “beaten” to encourage a good rise. Even though we have access to baking powder nowadays, beating the biscuit dough still helps to ensure that we have tall, flaky biscuits. 

  Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated) to cut the biscuits. Cut directly down. If you twist or saw, you’ll deflate all those layers that you just created. Place the biscuits close together in a buttered pie plate. Baking them all together encourages them to rise up, rather than out. Brush the tops with additional buttermilk, if you’d like. Bake the biscuits for 12-14 minutes at 400F, until they are golden brown and delicious-looking. Let them cool for five or ten minutes before serving with cold butter, jam, and/or honey.  

 That recipe is a bit long, but it really takes no time at all. There are a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult or time consuming–they just help ensure beautiful, tall, flaky biscuits. If you start making them now, you’ll have biscuits on your table in about thirty minutes!

Buttermilk Biscuits are very near and dear to my heart, just like the woman who introduced me to them. These may not be Nonnie’s biscuits, but I hope she would have enjoyed them. 

 Buttermilk Biscuits
makes 12-14 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk, very cold*

Preheat oven to 400F and grease a pie plate with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 Tbsp pieces. Cut one piece into four sticks, and cut the other into very thin pats. Place all pieces into the bowl with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender,* cut cold butter into the flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 2/3 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon, up to 3/4 cup total.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary.

Flour a rolling pin. Smack dough four or five times. Flip dough, and smack another four or five times. Flip and smack again until you have done this twice on each side.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk. Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, until they have risen and are light golden brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve with butter and jam, honey, or gravy.

Buttermilk Biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours. 

Notes:

1. If you don’t have buttermilk, you may stir 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar into 3/4 cup of cow’s milk (not skim).
2. If you don’t have a pastry blender, use two forks.

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons

A few weeks ago, I posted a question on Facebook: “What are your favorite holiday cookies?” I got plenty of answers. Many said snickerdoodles and thumbprints and spritz. My friend, Anita, once again kept her family’s green tree cookies a secret. If you’ve ever had one, you can understand how badly I want that recipe. The last person I expected to hear from was my little sister, Eliot (aka “E3”). I’ve gone on and on about how we never had holiday cookies at all, but here she was with a suggestion: gingerbread men with chocolate buttons. No, these weren’t from our mother’s or grandmothers’ kitchens, but instead from Harper’s Blue Bonnet Bakery. If you grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, you know this place. It’s an institution, having been on Camp Bowie Boulevard since 1934. It’s open six days a week, sells countless varieties of pastries, breads, cakes, pies, and cookies, on top of a full lunch menu. And where many places with extensive menus are hit or miss, I’ve never had a thing from Blue Bonnet that wasn’t spectacular. If you’re nearby and haven’t been, go check it out and grab a gingerbread man while you’re at it. You see, their gingerbread men are special. They’re the size of your face, and the only adornments are three chocolate icing buttons piped in the middle. They don’t need anything more than that. The gingery cookie and touch of chocolate are a match made in heaven. And they’re available year-round, so seriously, go get one if you have the opportunity. But if, like me, you live too far away, you can make a very good version at home! Let’s get started.

These cookies start with a ton of flour, a hefty dose of spice, baking soda, and salt. Whisk those all together and set them aside to work on the wet ingredients. Cream some room temperature butter, and then add both light brown and granulated sugars. Next comes 3/4 cup of dark molasses, a room temperature egg, and some vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, divide the dough into quarters, and wrap each in plastic before putting them in the fridge for an hour. The dough is quartered because even after it’s chilled, it will still be a bit sticky thanks to all that molasses. Smaller pieces of wrapped dough will chill more thoroughly than if it were halved, and therefore make cookies easier to roll and cut. 

 Flour a surface, rolling pin, and 4″ gingerbread man cookie cutter. Once the dough has been chilled, take one quarter at a time and roll it to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough with the cookie cutter, and place cut cookies on prepared sheet pans. These cookies will spread a tiny bit, so make sure to set them at least one inch apart. Bake the gingerbread men at 350F for 10-12 minutes (mine are done at 10:30), until they just feel firm and are no longer raw-looking. Let them cool on the sheet pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. 

After you’ve baked all the cookies, make some chocolate royal icing. The icing begins with sifting confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder, and salt. Mix together some warm water and vanilla, and use an electric mixer to beat two tablespoons of it into the dry ingredients. It will be thick and look nothing like royal icing. Continue beating in liquid by the 1/2 teaspoon until your desired consistency has been reached. I like for mine to hold soft peaks. Load the chocolate royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a plain piping tip, and pipe on some buttons. If you want heavily frosted cookies, you can draw an outline around the edge and then flood the middle with icing that you’ve thinned with more water.

Royal icing takes a long time to dry, especially if it’s used for flooding cookies–it can take up to 24 hours. As these just have a bit of icing, I took a little shortcut. Lay the iced cookies in one layer on a sheet pan and then place them in a 150F oven for ten to fifteen minutes, until the buttons are hard to the touch. This shortcut only works well for cookies that haven’t been flooded with royal icing, as the flood icing tends to become wavy and distorted.

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons are excellent for gifting and entertaining during the holidays. Nobody will be able to resist these sweet, spicy cookies with a touch of chocolate! Their appearance may be less extravagant than the gingerbread men you see covered head-to-foot with royal icing, but these cookie simply don’t need that kind of adornment. To me, they are perfect.

Looking for more Twelve Days of Cookies? I’ve got you covered! Check out these Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Apple Cider Snaps, Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, and M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies. There are two more cookie recipes to come before Christmas Day!

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons
Chocolate Royal Icing from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle
makes 3.5 dozen cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed*
3/4 cup dark molasses*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Royal Icing:
1/2 pound (2 cups) confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
2 tablespoons meringue powder*
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons warm water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown and granulated sugars, followed by the molasses. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, frequently scraping down the bowl.

Divide dough into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least one hour or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Flour a surface and a rolling pin.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it, and roll it out on the floured surface, adding more flour as necessary. Dough will be a bit sticky. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the edge of a 4-inch cookie cutter in flour, then use it to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the tops no longer look wet. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Make the chocolate royal icing. Sift together confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder, and salt. Stir together vanilla and water. Add 2 tablespoons of the liquid to the dry ingredients, and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Continue beating the mixture for at least two minutes, stopping to add additional liquid by the 1/2 teaspoon until the desired consistency has been reached. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe on cooled cookies as desired.

Let frosted cookies sit at room temperature for several hours until dry, or place them on a sheet pan in one layer and put them in a 150F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the frosting is hard to the touch.

Cooled, frosted cookies keep covered at room temperature for at least a week.

Notes:

1. Dark brown sugar may be substituted.
2. Do not use blackstrap molasses–it is too robust for this recipe.
3. You may use natural or Dutch Process cocoa.
4. I use Wilton, which can be found at craft and kitchen stores.

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons