Food + Travel Writing

Travel and food writing by Christina Crisostomo. New York/Toronto-based.

Recipe: Gingerbread Snowflakes

New York is an actual winter wonderland, and I know because I trudged to and from the subway in the fresh snow several times today in search of chocolate chai danishes and fresh seafood with good company. It was worth it. But I much prefer snowflakes in the form of these cookies, which I made for my family over the holidays.

Gingerbread snowflakes

They may look overly precious or intricate, but the beauty of snowflake cookies is that you can basically decorate them any way you want because, you know, every snowflake is different.

Gingerbread snowflakes

Plus, you can always gobble up the weird-looking ones when your icing goes wrong (as I do) and no one will be any the wiser. Unless you eat all of the cookies, and in that case, I can’t help you.

Recipe: Gingerbread Snowflakes (via Smitten Kitchen)
Yields a lot of cookies with 3-5 in. cutters, like maybe 40? I lost count.

I realize about 50% of the posts I have written here so far are about gingerbread, but this is one of the best gingerbread cookie recipes I’ve tried and you should know about it. I haven’t yet found a royal icing recipe I’m 100% happy with, but I tried out the icing included in this chocolate gingerbread recipe and it was fine, if a little runny. (The cookies aren’t quite as good, though.)

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp finely ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

Snowflake cookie cutters (or shape of your choice)
Your favorite royal icing recipe (or see above)
Sanding sugar and dragees

  1. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar together in an electric mixer (I would recommend a stand mixer if possible, as this dough becomes quite heavy and my arms aren’t that strong) until fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs and molasses into the butter-sugar mixture. With the mixer on low, add flour until just combined.
  4. Divide dough into thirds, shape into discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about an hour (and up to two days).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Roll out one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes of your choice and spread two inches apart on your prepared baking sheets. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more cookies (they may have a more cracked appearance, but it will be covered in icing anyways.) If you don’t want your cookies to spread, refrigerate the sheets until firm, about 15 minutes. If not, it’s not the end of the world, but they might puff and lose a bit of their shape.
  7. Bake cookies about 12-14 minutes until crisp. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. When cool, ice and decorate as you please. If using sanding sugar, make sure to let the cookies dry for at least five minutes before tapping off excess sugar. I usually decorate all of my cookies and wait until the end to tap off excess sugar. It will probably take at least an hour for the icing to set at room temperature, but I’ve left them out for longer (just in case) and the cookies were fine.
  9. Store in an airtight container (between sheets of parchment or wax paper if you want to be safe) for up to a week. Broken cookies are inevitable, but they are still cookies, so eat them.