Holiday Gingerbread Ornaments

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Whether you’re new to baking or an old hand with the rolling pin, gingerbread cookies are a sure-fire way to spark all the holiday feelings. Here’s a version of the holiday tradition, complete with royal icing.

This recipe makes 36-40 three-inch cookies that could also be used for tree ornaments. If you’re adventurous and want to make a gingerbread house, you’ll need to double up the recipe. To make these sweet holiday treats a truly Virginia experience, try using Byrd Mill flour and Spicer’s Mill spices.


Gingerbread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups Flour (gluten-free flour mix for baking)

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Prepare

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Be sure not to brown the butter or have it form bubbles.
  • Mix in the molasses, brown sugar and spices. Stir until sugar and spices are dissolved.
  • Let the butter mixture cool to lukewarm before beating in the egg.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Make a well and slowly add the butter mixture, scraping the bowl often. You’ll be making a sticky dough that will firm up while chilling.
  • Divide the dough in half and form each half into a thick rectangle. Wrap the dough well to prevent drying, and refrigerate for at least an hour. The dough should be thoroughly chilled before rolling out for cookies. If the dough is still sticky, chill it longer.
  • Once the dough is completely chilled, then preheat your oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  • Four a clean work surface and roll out half the dough to ⅛ to ¼-inch thickness. Leave the other half in the refrigerator to keep it chilled. The thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be.
  • Cut out shapes as close together as possible to minimize waste. Carefully transfer cookies to the baking sheets.
  • If you plan to make ornaments, they work best with cookies that are roughly 3 inches in diameter, as you’ll need to drill holes for the hanging ribbon. Use a toothpick to drill a hole at the top of the ornament. Be sure to make the hole big enough to thread a ribbon — the dough will expand a bit while cooking, so make the holes slightly larger than you think you’ll need. Place the holes about ¼ inch away from the edge of the cookie so they won’t break while hanging.
  • Bake the cookies 8 to 12 minutes. You want them slightly brown around the edges and they should feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until they’re set before transferring them to racks to cool completely.
  • Decorate the cookies with royal icing.

Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, about 3 ounces total
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

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Prepare

  • Combine the egg whites and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat until frothy.
  • Add the confectioners’ sugar gradually. Mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is shiny.
  • Turn the mixer speed up to high and beat until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Divide the icing and add food coloring, if desired.
  • Transfer the icing to a pastry bag and pipe as desired. You can also use a heavy-duty storage bag and clip off a small portion of the corner of the bag.
  • To cover a cookie in a flood of icing, first pipe around the edges and then fill in the center with a smooth layer of icing.
  • Store any leftover icing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Decorate and enjoy!

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