A few days ago, I shared some of our holiday crafts. I told you that my pastry-chef sister Heather baked gingerbread house pieces for Lil to decorate. Our kitchen remains sticky from the amount of frosting and candy used on that house.
What I didn’t reveal are the ridiculously good spoils from the house-making: Heather gave us all the trimmings from the gingerbread walls. Rough in shape, but generally slender, these perfectly crisp cookies beg to be dunked in coffee or tea. I eat a few pieces a day for a mildly sweet, spicy, crispy snack.
Sugar-coated house for kids and refined cookies for the adults – what a sweet holiday tradition!
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add molasses and egg, beat to combine well
Stir together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, beating until just blended (Dough will be very wet. If making for a gingerbread house, you may want to add extra flour to enable an easier roll out)
Gather into a disk, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (for easier rolling, freeze dough and then roll out as soon as pulling from the freezer. It will still be a wet dough, but easier to roll out)
Roll out to ¼ inch, using as much flour as necessary for easier rolling
Cut with floured cutter, or bake for gingerbread house **see note
Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at 350 until lightly browned and feels barely firm when touched
- First make a template out of cardboard or firm paper. After freezing and rolling, bake before cutting out the pieces (this will work well if you roll the dough between pieces of parchment. You can then just pick up the parchment paper, rather than trying to move the fragile dough).
- Bake partially, until the gingerbread is golden, but still slightly soft to the tough. Pull from the oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes, or until you can cut the dough without tearing it. Place the template on top of the dough and deeply score the desired shape with a very sharp knife (I like using an exacto knife).
- Let the dough cool entirely, then remove the excess gingerbread from the shape you cut out (wall, roof, etc.), you may have to cut the lines again, but it should be fairly easy to remove the excess gingerbread.
- After removing any excess, return the shape to the oven to dry out one more time. You will want the gingerbread to be very firm before taking out of the oven.
- Let cool entirely and then assemble the house with a very thick royal icing (1 egg white whipped with enough powdered sugar to make a thick spread; add a splash of vinegar, or lemon juice, to help it to harden easier). Decorate as desired.