These holiday Gingerbread Cookies with Fluffy Royal Icing have a spicy, pungent bite from the molasses and combination of warm spices. The vintage recipe uses ingredients and techniques that make it non-spreading with a tender center. The royal icing has a fluffy texture, but still skins over making the cookies easy to stack.
Baker’s tips for Gingerbread Cookies with Fluffy Royal Icing:
Better butter makes better cookies:
I only use real butter in my baking instead of shortening. Vintage recipes typically call for shortening to ensure less cookie spread, however to me it has a waxy texture and lack of flavor so I prefer to just use butter.
Baking soda adds rise and prevents spreading:
Dissolve the baking soda into the buttermilk along with the vinegar. It will still provide a little rise in the cookie, yet prevent spread during the baking process.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by placing in a liquid measuring cup 1 tsp. of white vinegar and then filling up the measuring cup to the 1/3 c. Another option is to keep dry buttermilk in your pantry and just whip up as needed.
There are 3 types of conventional molasses: regular, robust, and blackstrap. The sugar content varies from the way in which it was processed. The lighter the molasses, the sweeter it tastes. When measuring out molasses, lightly spray the liquid measuring cup with canola spray. This will ensure your molasses will pour out easier and you will get every drop measured out.
Always chill the dough:
After rolling out the Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing dough between the parchment paper, you must chill for at least 1-hour to overnight. Its so much easier to have cut shapes from super chilled dough. Also, chilling the cookie shaped dough for 5 minutes is one additional step you can do to ensure less spread.
Use the proper baking sheet:
Always use light-colored, aluminum cookie sheet. I use Nordic Ware aluminum 18×13 half-sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Aluminum is best for distributing and reflecting even heat during the baking process. Dark cookie sheets conduct more heat off the surface, which may lead to your baked goods to burn or darken on the edges before they are fully cooked.
Options for frosting:
The fluffy frosting in this recipe has a light, marshmallow-like taste. It does involve a few more ingredients and steps than your typical royal icing, but is so worth it. You can use a simpler royal icing instead by beating together 3 egg whites, 3 c. confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp. cream of tarter and some vanilla. Since I only use natural, pure vanilla extract which tints the frosting, be sure to add a few drops of white food coloring to brighten the frosting.Jump to Recipe
Gingerbread Cookies with Fluffy Royal Icing
- 1 c. unsalted butter room temp
- 2/3 c. brown sugar
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1 egg + 1 yolk
- 1 1/4 c. molasses
- 1/3 c. buttermilk
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda dissolve in buttermilk
- 5 3/4 c. unbleached flour
- 4 tsp. ginger
- 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. clove
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
FLUFFY ROYAL ICING (crusting)
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 c. superfine sugar
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- Cut 6 sheets of parchment paper cut to fit baking sheets.
- Cream together butter, brown sugar and sugar until fluffy and light in color (3-5 minutes). Add egg and yolk and mix.
- Pour buttermilk into liquid measuring cup, add in both the vinegar and baking soda to dissolve and set aside.
- Whisk together dry ingredients. Add half of the dry mixture to the batter along with 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the molasses and mix until it just comes together. Then dd the remaining dry ingredients, buttermilk mixture and molasses and mix it until it just comes together.
- Separate dough into 3 sections. Roll out eat section to 1/4" between 2 sheets of parchment paper cut to fit baking sheets.
- Chill the dough for at least 1 hour or even overnight.
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on baking sheet and chill in fridge for 5-10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes.
- If your going to re-roll any scraps, you will need to follow the same process: re-roll scraps between parchment paper, chill for at least 1 hour, cut shapes and chill again for 5-10 minutes before baking.
- Let cookies cool and then frost. Store in a container.
- Place egg whites and cream of tarter in mixer with the whisk attachment and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- In a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water place water and sprinkle in the gelatin over the water and let it sit for 2 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook for 5-7 minutes or until sugar is fully dissolved.
- Add the sugar mixture to the mixer. Add powdered sugar into the egg whites and beat on medium high speed for another 10-12 minutes until stiff peak. Add in vanilla and white food color.
- This frosting will crust fast so you need to keep covered with a wet paper towel while you decorate the cookies.