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    Thin and Crispy Gingerbread Cookies

    Source of Recipe

    Cook's Illustrated

    Recipe Introduction

    These gingersnap-like cookies are sturdy and therefore suitable for making ornaments. If you wish to thread the cookies, snip wooden skewers to 1/2-inch lengths and press them into the cookies just before they go into the oven; remove skewers immediately after baking. Or, use a drinking straw to punch holes in the cookies when they're just out of the oven and still soft. Store in an airtight container. In dry climates, the cookies should keep for about a month. When measuring the molasses, use a liquid measuring cup.

    List of Ingredients

    3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    1 tablespoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
    3/4 cup (about 9 ounces) unsulfured molasses
    2 tablespoons milk

    1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
    3 tablespoons milk
    1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners' sugar


    1. For the cookies: In food processor, process flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds. Alternatively, in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

    2. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in quarters. Working with one portion of dough at time, roll 1/8 inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

    3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    4. Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-lined cookie sheets with wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4 inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. Bake cookies until lightly darkened and firm in center when pressed with finger, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions from top to bottom racks halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

    5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

    6. For the icing: Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons milk in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining milk as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily, or thick enough to pipe through pastry bag. Drizzle, spread, or decorate cookies with glaze as desired.

    -----Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Tips-----

    Clean, simple lines work best; covering the entire cookie with a mishmash of designs can look messy. For people, stick to the basics--eyes, mouth, maybe a tie or necklace. For shapes, use simple lines or polka dots, or use icing as glue to affix store-bought decorating candies (tiny silver balls look nice atop white icing drops). Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

    YIELD: Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen gingerbread people or 4 to 5 dozen cookies




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