Gingerbread Raindeer Cookies
For the Gingerbread:
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Royal Icing:
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons meringue powder
9 Tablespoons room temperature water
King Arthur Pearl Sugar (optional) for decorating hoofs
For the Gingerbread: In the bowl kitchen mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and molasses and beat on medium high speed until creamy, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix on medium-high about 1 minute.
In a separate medium-size mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, whisk to blend. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and beat until all ingredients are incorporated.
Divide the dough in half and, using your hands, shape into two flat disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place near your work station.
Remove 1 disc of chilled dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes about 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
Place the cookies in the oven and bake for about 8-9 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack. Do not decorate the cookies until completely cool.
For the Royal Icing: In the bowl of a kitchen mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, add the confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder and water, mix on high for 1– 2 minutes.
When lifting the whisk up, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within a sew seconds. Note: There is some variation when making royal icing. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. If it’s too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar.
Frost the cookies as desired. Note: Royal icing takes about 2 hours at room temperature to dry completely.