Christmas season is in full swing, and along with it arrive the abundance of delicious desserts and bakes that, in my opinion, truly define this season.
I’ve never celebrated Christmas in its entirety. Sure, I was a staunch believer in Santa as a kid. My brother and I used to wake up to presents next to our beds on Christmas morning from ‘Santa.’ But we never really celebrated it. But one thing that has always fascinated me for as long as I remember is the sweet treats associated with Christmas. And, to this day, gingerbread cookies are the one thing that really embodies Christmas for me.
I tasted gingerbread cookies for the first time a few years ago, after many years of anticipating how they’d taste like after seeing them all over television as a child. They were terrific, so fragrant, crisp, and incredibly flavorful. These little cookies exceeded my expectations in every way and, they’re actually super simple to make! Hence, I’ve finally written down this super easy and accessible recipe for the yummiest gingerbread cookies. Moreover, gingerbread cookies make for a wonderful gift to your loved ones, or if you're in the mood for some self-love, they also double as a delicious munching item!
I realize that the most popular way to make gingerbread cookies is in the famous gingerbread man’s shape. However, I didn’t have the required cookie cutters and didn’t want to spend much on something I’d be using maybe once a year. What I had were star-shaped cookie cutters; therefore, this recipe is for the yummiest gingerbread stars!
What’s in the gingerbread stars?
Traditionally, gingerbread needs to have molasses and spices that give it a distinct flavor.
You might have noticed my cookies are lighter in color; this is because of the absence of molasses and the use of light brown sugar. Molasses aren’t as readily available, which is why I’ve omitted it from the recipe. If you can, I suggest using dark brown sugar for this recipe.
This particular recipe resembles a sugar cookie, except that it calls for brown sugar instead of granulated white sugar or powdered sugar.
The spices that go into these cookies are ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, all in powdered form, of course. I find that all four of these spices are absolutely necessary if you want to nail that classic gingerbread flavor. Therefore, I suggest you procure these spices if you’re going to make gingerbread cookies. You really mustn’t miss any of these spices, especially ginger, because that’s quite literally the key flavoring ingredient. I also use a splash of vanilla in the cookies to give them a bit more flavor.
These gingerbread stars are also devoid of any eggs because I wanted to make them accessible to people who prefer baking without eggs.
Now, these gingerbread stars are delicious as it is; they’re crisp and super flavorful, but it’s Christmas season, and that calls for some delightful royal icing on the cookies! Typically royal icing is made with icing sugar and egg whites, but in the spirit of making this recipe egg-free, I’ve used a bit of water and icing sugar along with some salt and vanilla to make some super easy and delicious royal icing that dries up just as well as the egg-white one.
What equipment do I need to make gingerbread stars?
The equipment for these delectable gingerbread stars is pretty standard. The most essential equipment is probably an electric hand mixer because you’ll need to cream the butter and essentially form the cookie dough with it. You will also need a rolling pin and some star-shaped cookie cutters of any size that you have. You are free to use cookie cutters of any shape; it doesn’t really matter.
Apart from these, you’ll need a couple of mixing bowls, a rubber spatula, some plastic wrap, and a piping bag.
The recipe for the yummiest gingerbread stars
Yields: 25-30 cookies
Time: 1½ hours
240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
20 grams (2 ¾ tablespoons) cornstarch
4 grams (1 teaspoon) cinnamon powder
4 grams (1 teaspoon) ginger powder
1 gram (¼ teaspoon) nutmeg powder
1 gram (½ teaspoon) clove powder
2 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
113 grams (½ cup) room-temperature salted butter
100 grams (½ cup) brown sugar
40 grams (¼ cup) yogurt
2 grams (½ teaspoon) baking soda
4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
245 grams (2 cups) icing sugar
54 grams (11 teaspoons) water
1 gram (¼ teaspoon) vanilla
1 gram (¼ teaspoon) salt
With an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the yogurt and baking soda; whisk that in too.
Incorporate the vanilla extract next.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and the spices.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix it using the electric mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula while mixing.
The dough will look crumbly. Form it into a single mass of dough with your hands or a rubber spatula.
Transfer the dough onto a plastic wrap and wrap it snugly while forming it into a rough rectangle or square.
Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
Transfer the chilled cookie dough onto a floured surface.
Roll the cookie dough into a ⅛ inch thick sheet and cut out stars with a floured cookie cutter.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Place the cookies onto the prepared baking tray, position each cookie ½ an inch apart on the baking tray.
Refrigerate the cookies for 10 minutes.
Bake them at 180°C for 10-12 minutes.
Bring together the dough scraps and cut out more cookies and chill them on separate baking trays while the others bake.
To make the icing, whisk the water and icing sugar together until smooth and lump-free. Adjust the consistency if it’s too runny; the icing should be just thick enough to pipe.
Chill the baked cookies on a cooling rack until they’ve come down to room temperature.
Add the icing to a piping bag, cut a tiny opening, and pipe any design you want. You can also skip piping the icing altogether, and dip the top-side of the cookies in the bowl of icing and let the excess drip off.
The total amount of cookies you’ll yield with this recipe might vary depending on the size and type of cookie cutters you’ll use. But, you will get a minimum of 25 cookies with this recipe.
I would not suggest reducing the recipe because these cookies are absolutely yummy. All 25 or so of them will be devoured in no time.