gingerbread menHere's a holiday confession worthy of the Grinch himself: While I love baking, I hate rolling out cookie dough for gingerbread people. Oh, the mess! Flour covering every surface of the kitchen, dough scraps littering the floor ... and I can never tell if I'm rolling the dough too thin or too thick. (Usually I err on the "too thick" side, ending up with particularly puffy gingerbread people.) Anyway, if I'm gonna put all that effort into a batch of cookies, I want them to taste great. Better than great! And this recipe for Gingerbread People from Martha Stewart does not disappoint.

Gingerbread People

    Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
    1 large egg
    3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
    2 cups confectioners' sugar
    4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (meringue powder)
Directions
 
    1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg and molasses. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw before baking).
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper, and roll out to 1/8 inch thick, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Using paper, lift dough onto two baking sheets; freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
    3. Remove paper and dough from baking sheets. Using a long offset spatula, loosen dough from paper. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and brush off any excess flour. Transfer to baking sheets. (Gather scraps, briefly freeze, and re-roll.)
    4. For softer cookies, bake 8 to 10 minutes; for crunchier cookies, bake 11 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
    5. Make icing: In a large bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, powdered egg whites, and 1/4 cup water (if needed, adjust consistency with confectioners' sugar). Transfer icing to a pastry bag with a small tip, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and snip a small hole in one corner. Decorate cookies as desired.

Image via Kate Farquharson/Flickr