These gingerbread cookies are wonderfully crisp and spicy. The dough is very easy to work with and fun to prepare with children during the holiday season.
One year at The Ranch Kitchen we trimmed our Christmas tree with hand-painted Gingerbread Girls and Boys, with each employee and many customer decorating their own cookies. We had cowboys, farmers, a runner with headphones, a nurse, and even a ballerina on our tree.
Gingerbread cookies can be made two to three weeks in advance, and their flavor and texture will just keep improving.
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups fruit sweetener
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups unbleached white flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons ginger
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon carob powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Cream together the butter and sweetener. When light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Sift the dry ingredients together three times and stir them into the web ingredients, mixing just enough to form a dough. Cover the dough and refrigerate it for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle before rolling out.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the baking sheets with baking paper.
Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Dip the cookie cutters in flour before cutting out gingerbread girls and boys or other shapes. Place the cookies on the baking sheets, leaving 1/2 inch around each cookie.
Bake until a light golden brown, 15 to 16 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pans before removing.
When the cookies are cool, they can be fancifully decorated with an icing that will dry hard.