gingerbread joy

gingerbread cookie pops by Mili

This holiday treat is a mandatory part of our family’s “countdown to Christmas” traditions.

I’m sharing my classic gingerbread cookie recipe, a gluten-free version and how I make royal icing. You’ll also learn my tricks to making fuss-free, cut-out cookies and different ways to assemble and decorate special, gift-worthy treats with gingerbread.

First the recipes, then the steps for how-to.
fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

Mili’s Sweets Gingerbread Cookies (Classic Recipe)

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup organic molasses *

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour (the gluten-free recipe can be found at the end of this post)

2 tablespoons filtered water

* INGREDIENT TIP: I confess that before this beautiful, unsulphured, organic molasses from Wholesome Sweeteners came along, I couldn’t even stomach the smell of molasses. I love the aroma and taste of this product. It simply outshines anything else I’ve used, and I have tried a handful of other brands of molasses. I highly recommend it, for the best results and the best tasting gingerbread cookies.

gingerbread cookies and the best molasses by Mili

Here’s what you’ll do: 

In a standing mixer, with the standard paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda until mixture is smooth. Add molasses. Blend in flour and water to make a stiff dough.

MIXING TIP: As per the third photo below, you’ll know you’re done mixing when the dough completely lifts from the bowl.

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

Cover the cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until you are ready to start rolling out the cookies.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. (I understand that most cookies bake at 375. However, this is too hot for my desired, end result. I prefer my gingerbread cookies to have a chewy center and have a crisp outside, without burning.)

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

ROLL TIME:

Here’s the easiest way to roll cookies, with less fuss, so that you don’t have to transfer cut cookies onto your cookie sheet, which typically leads to distorting the cut.

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

* Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside of your cookie sheet. Lightly dust it with flour.

* Hand-kneed enough dough to cover your sheet and place in the center with a floured rolling pin.

* Roll out your dough to fit inside the parchment paper. I like to have the dough down to a smooth, 1/8 of an inch.

* Place as many cuts with your cookie cutter(s), without having the cuts touch.

* Lift off  and remove the uncut portions of dough from the parchment paper.

* Move the cut pieces, so that they can bake with enough room, and without touching.

* Hold the paper by opposite corners of the parchment paper and place it inside your cookie sheet.

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

BAKE TIME:

My cookies bake perfectly in my home oven for 13 minutes. You will want to check them after 11 minutes. It will also depend on how thinly you roll the dough.

The number of servings will depend on the size cutter you use.

Leave out to completely cool before decorating.

Cut-Out Cookie Pops

Now, let’s make something super cute for treat-giving. My daughter and I came up with the simple idea of creating a sandwiched cookie onto a pop, using royal icing and pretty sprinkles. I love this as an idea for a gift the kids can make for their friends at school, since it’s a treat most anyone (even those with food allergies) can enjoy. This recipe is nut-free, egg-free and can be made gluten-free.

un with gingerbread - how to make gingerbread cookie pops - recipe on milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll need:

* Baked and cooled gingerbread cookies in the same shape, two for each pop

* Lollipop sticks – I use ones sized 4 1/2″ x 1/8″

* Prepared royal icing (please see my recipe below)

* Colored sprinkles – for this project, we used white and silver crystalized sugar.

* Your work station should have parchment paper, with a cooling rack to allow your cookies to set and receive their sprinkles, and a bowl under the rack to catch the extra sprinkles.

How to assemble:

This is super fun and simple. I allowed my daughter to do all of the “work.” I recommend making one pop at a time.

First, place the two cookies upside down. Pipe an outline and center line on each. Place the stick on one of the lines and then put the cookies on top of one another, creating a lined-up sandwich.

Next, pipe royal icing to completely cover one side of one of the cookies.

Place the pop on the cookie rack, over a bowl. Completely cover the royal icing with sprinkles. Allow to set until firm to the touch. (The drying process should take no more than 5 minutes.)

gingerbread joy - how to make gingerbread cookie pops - recipe on milissweets.com

Here were the Cut-Out Cookie Pops on my auntie’s Christmas dessert table. The ladies absolutely loved how delicious and fun these were to eat.

un with gingerbread - how to make gingerbread cookie pops - recipe on milissweets.com

Good, Old-Fashioned Fun with Gingerbread Cookies

It’s time to make a memory. Once you introduce the joy of decorating cookies with your loved ones, you will want to be sure it’s an annual holiday tradition.

When you are decorating cookies with kids, remember that you’ll need a broom. There’s no way to do this without making a sweet mess, so be prepared for it and remember to enjoy this precious time! They are only kids once, so simply embrace it and have fun!

The trick to succeeding with this project, is to let go of total control. Each child should have their own piping bag, with royal icing. If you don’t have piping bags, I recommend gallon-sized, plastic freezer bags, cut down to size for small hands.

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com Using piping tips is too complicated and unnecessary. I recommend cutting a very small hole at the tip of the bag. Show the kids once, how to get the icing out of the small hole, with having as little as possible come out of the “big hole” on top. They’ll figure it out. 

It’s great to offer as many sprinkles as possible. This was a nice way to share my stash of way too many sprinkles and candy decorations. They were so excited! You have to allow the kids to “test” them, to make sure they are yummy.

Make sure to have your camera ready. There are going to be a lot of smiles, pride and joy in their little creations! You’ll have to snap quickly, before the cookies magically disappear. I adore all children and these are the moments that I just want to hug and kiss each of them for being so adorable!

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

Royal Icing Recipe

(I use a version from Wilton.com.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 cups powdered/confectioners sugar (I do not sift.)

3 tablespoons Meringue Powder **

9 tablespoons warm, filtered water

Here’s what you’ll do:

Using a standing mixer, with a scraping, paddle attachment, place all of the ingredients in the bowl and start mixing at a low speed until ingredients are incorporated together. Increase to a medium speed, for 5 minutes.

Spoon icing into piping bags and use immediately. Royal icing dries quickly so anything not used should be placed in a air-tight container.

** ALLERGY TIP: If you are allergic to eggs, do not use Meringue Powder, as it’s made with pasteurized, dried egg-whites. Instead, I recommend substituting this ingredient with either OrgaN, No Egg, Natural Egg Replacer, or Bob’s Red Mill Vegetarian Egg Replacer powders.

Cookie Ball Pops 

Another lovely idea for gingerbread is to make cookie ball pops. I understand the desire to have a pretty treat on a stick so I came up with cookie pops, to replace cake pops, that I do not make.

fun with gingerbread - recipe on milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll need: 

9 x 13 pan

non-stick cooking spray

lollipop sticks

royal icing or melted/tempered white chocolate

small bowl of crystalized sugar sprinkles

parchment paper

Here’s what you’ll do:

Prepare the Classic Gingerbread recipe (above) and without refrigerating the dough, flatten it into a 9×13″ pan, prepared with non-stick cookie spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until completely baked through.

Do not allow it to completely cool. Use a butter knife to cut serving-sections of the baked cookie. Roll one section of dough into your hands, to make a ball. Place the lollipop stick in the top center and onto the parchment paper to cool. This is the tricky part, as most people can’t handle the heat to their hands that I can endure. If you aren’t sure and do not want to burn your hands then don’t attempt it. If you wait too long, or allow the cookie to cool, then it will not roll and cool in a ball.

Dip the ball of cooked dough, cooled onto a lollipop stick, into prepared royal icing or melted/tempered white chocolate. Cover with sprinkles.

Mili’s Sweets Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookie Recipe 

Please note that gluten-free flours allow for a different textured dough, that you’ll have to manipulate to get the results you need.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup organic molasses

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten-Free, All Purpose Baking Flour ***

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum (Place this ingredient when you add the flour.)

2 tablespoons filtered water

***  I contacted Bob’s Red Mill, asking about this product and their facility, so that I had a clear understanding of what is done to be sure there was no cross contamination with tree nuts. They were gracious enough to provide me with a prompt answer. The great news is: There are absolutely no peanuts used at/in their facility. There are some tree nuts used in their facility, which I would be concerned about, had I not received the explanation of their process between production runs. It’s my understanding that there is no cross contamination. However, if you have tree nut allergies, you have to decide for yourself, whether or not this product is for you.

Here’s what you’ll do:

Please review my how-to mix and cut-out instructions, via the classic recipe version, posted above.

Refrigeration: This dough is much softer than the classic recipe-version, so I recommend wrapping your finished dough in plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least one hour, or until you are ready to roll out cookies.

Bake Time: This recipe requires less baking time. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In my home oven, they are perfectly baked in 10 minutes. I would check your cookies at 8 minutes, and see what works best for your oven.

Take care and enjoy!

xox

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[…] sweet. I love a good drizzling of royal icing to start. To see my same classic recipe paired with Gingerbread Cookies or iced Shortbread Cookies, please go to my recipe […]

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Rachelle Nolan - May 21, 2016 - 2:25 pm

Hello! I was just researching allergen-free royal icing and came across your recipe from the gingerbread recipe. You mentioned using BRM vegetarian egg replacer instead of meringue powder. My question is, do you sub this at an exact ratio? Also 3 tablespoons? Anything else you add or omit?
Thank you SO much!
Rachelle

sweetsbymili@gmail.com - May 24, 2016 - 10:33 pm

Hi Rachelle,

Sorry for my delay. I’m not on the blog as often as I’d like to be! I use any egg replacer as instructed on the packaging. The best one I’ve found is available at Sprouts. If you ever have other specific questions, please feel free to text me anytime! (760)571-9876