If I could choose only one kind of cookie to bake at Christmas, I think it would be gingerbread. You really can't beat the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven, and a gingerbread cookie is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of something warm.
I've been baking gingerbread cookies this evening (can you smell them?) and thought I'd share the recipe I have used for several years. It is absolutely foolproof (has to be, if I'm doing the baking!). It comes from Martha Stewart's Holidays book, published in 1993. If you're looking for a new cookie to try this holiday season, I'd suggest this recipe. I've made it for years...the cookies are perfect every time.
Patti Paige's Gingerbread (makes 25 gingerbread men or women)
New York baker Patti Page has developed a sturdy gingerbread dough that can be rolled and cut by small children, and still produces a delicious cookie.
10.5 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2.5 tablespoons)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup dark molasses
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add spices, salt, egg, and molasses and beat well. Sift together flour, soda, and baking powder; add to butter mixture and beat again. (I use a stand mixer for this step...it's a very stiff dough.)
2. Chill dough for several hours. (This is important...it rolls best if it is well chilled. I bake a few cookies at a time and re-chill the dough before rolling out each batch.)
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.