For the cookies:
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room
- 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup dark molasses
For the decorating icing:
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons warm water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 or 3 drops food coloring (optional)
- Candies, raisins and/or miniature semisweet
chocolate chips for decorating
Be sure an adult is nearby to help.
Mix the dry ingredients
In a bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and molasses
Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and molasses and beat on medium speed until blended.
Mix the ingredients together
Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. The dough will look like moist pebbles.
Dump the dough onto a work surface and press together into a solid mound. Divide in half. Press each pile into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Roll out the dough
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 3 baking sheets with butter.
Sprinkle a work surface with some flour. Unwrap 1 chilled disk of dough and place it on the floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle more flour under and over the dough as needed so that it doesnt stick.
Cut out shapes
Cut a shape out of the dough with a kid-shaped cookie cutter, pressing straight down and lifting straight up. Set the cutout on a baking sheet. Repeat, cutting as close as possible to the previous shape and spacing the cutouts about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Set the scraps of dough aside and repeat with the second disk of dough. Smash all the scraps together, roll the dough out and cut out more shapes.
Bake and cool the cookies
When 1 baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake the cookies until light brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.
Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Using a metal spatula, move the cookies onto the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.
Make the decorating icing
In a bowl, using a whisk or an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the confectioners' sugar, warm water and corn syrup until smooth. Add the food coloring, if using. You can divide the icing among 2 or 3 small bowls and make each one a different color by adding a few drops of food coloring to each bowl.
Decorate the cookies
Decorate the cookies with the icing and candies, raisins and/or chocolate chips. Makes about 28 cookies.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Oxmoor House, 2003).