Gingerbread cookies are the perfect holiday cookie. They are just classic! I love when gingerbread is soft and chewy. The secret I have found is part recipe and then how thick and how long you bake the cookie. I wanted to use Christmas shaped cookie cutters, so I could take the cookies to my daughter's preschool Christmas Party. They turned out wonderfully! These are a little labour intensive but really not bad at all. Zoe and I had a blast making the cookies. Zoe, of course loved to eat the dough and since there are no eggs I had no issues with it and even enjoyed some myself.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. milk
In a food processor, process the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices and salt until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the molasses and milk, process the until the dough is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass, about 10 seconds.
Scrape the dough onto a work surface and divide in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment layers, stack on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 15-20 minutes. (or refrigerated 2 hours or overnight)
Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer, place on a work surface. Peel of the top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip the dough over, peel off and discard second parchment piece. Cut the dough into 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring the shapes to the prepared baking sheets with a wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4-inch apart. Set the scraps aside. Repeat with the remaining dough until the baking sheets are full. Bake the cookies until set in the centres and the dough barely retains an imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and switching positions top and bottom halfway through cooking. Do not over-bake. Cool the cookies on the sheets 2 minutes, then remove to the cookies with a wide spatula to a wire cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.
Dough scraps can be re-rolled then cut and baked as well.