These are not just any cookies they’re Holly Jolly Gingerbread Cookies! What makes them so holly and jolly? Well, that’s a long story. Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you all about it.
Every year about this time I start to feel a tad too much hustle and bustle at the end of my holiday cheer. When that happens I usually like the refuge of the kitchen. I can play some of my favorite holiday tunes and get into the rhythm of the recipe.
But the day I made the dough for these gingerbread cookies, the bustle followed me right into the kitchen. The whole problem boiled down to the spices. That’s right. The nutmeg was harshing my mellow!
Do you ever wonder what the deal is with those little spice containers? Why do I feel like I’m opening a fortified vault at Ft. Knox or something? It might be easier if they simply equipped them with a retinal scanner.
The spices we buy have these little notches that you have to push in with a knife or some other blunt object. Blunt objects and holiday baking shouldn’t be said in the same sentence! I began with a butter knife, proceeded to a chopstick, followed by an ice pick. After none of these worked a claustrophobic sort of rage set in. At this point I was ready to saw off the top of the canister with my switchblade. Only I didn’t have a switchblade.
I finally got that little tab depressed, after which I poured a glass of wine to calm my frazzled nerves. Then I (finally) got to dispensing that teaspoon of nutmeg…only to find that the tab was still attached in a dangling sort of way that allowed only miniscule amounts of the spice to actually land in my measuring spoon.
I looked around the kitchen for a heavy kitchen power tool that I could use to put the cylinder out of my misery. I must have had a wild look in my eyes because the two dogs slumbering nearby took one look at me and promptly hightailed it out of the kitchen. Bing Crosby was singing in the background reminding me to dream of a White Christmas. If Bing buh-buh-buh-buhing in the background can’t soothe your spirits, I don’t know what can.
I did finally free that nutmeg from its oubliette. Bing (and the wine) did eventually free me from my frayed nerves. And then as the cookies began to take form, the sweet smell of gingerbread wafting through the kitchen began to lift my spirits even more. How can you be upset with the site of Holly Jolly Gingerbread Cookies in your kitchen?
Then I realized there was something kind of unique about this recipe. Something I really loved. It doesn’t require vanilla. Hail to the Gingerbread Cookie and its non-vanilla ways!
So if your holidays are in need of a cup of cheer, I can testify from personal experience that making these gingerbread cookies can sure help. Just do yourself a favor and have someone else open the spices.
(Adapted from a recipe found at: Food for My Family)
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup Earth Balance margarine, softened
- ½ cup soy milk
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup molasses
- To decorate: icing
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then add the spices – ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg baking. Stir and set aside.
Now it’s time to make your egg replacement. In a small bowl combine cold soy milk with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Set aside and let the ingredients get to know each other a little better.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat together the sugar and margarine for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in your soy milk egg replacement concoction and the molasses. Beat a little longer until all the ingredients are combined. Mix in flour/spice mix and stir until a soft dough forms and the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill out in the fridge for an hour or two (this will make the dough much easier to work with).
When you’re ready to bake, begin by heating your oven to 350F.
Next, prepare your surface by lightly sprinkling it with flour. Take a chunk of the dough and roll it out to about a 1/8″ thickness. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut shapes. Place cut-outs on either an ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until edges begin to brown. Place the cookies on a cooling rack to allow them to cool completely before decorating.
For the gingerbread man cookies, I created a white icing from my favorite Sugar Cookie recipe and added some red sugar candies for buttons. I liked the simple look of that. Then for the other cut-outs, I added some color and other fun sprinkles to mix things up a bit.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some sites with my favorite Gingerbread Cookie decorations!
- Annie’s Eats Gingerbread Cookies (I love the intricate decoration on these cookies)
- Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Cookies (Leave it to Martha to showcase elegant simplicity!)
- The Brown-Eyed Baker’s Gingerbread Men Cookies takes the cake with these classically decorated gems
- Heidi takes simplicity to a new level with her 101 Cookbooks Gingerbread Man Cookies on a stick!
- Shaina’s Food for My Family Gingerbread Cookies shows several creative decorating ideas.