Gingerbread Bells

Sometimes I just want to make a simple batch of chocolate chip cookies and call it a day. No fuss. No decorating. Minimal measuring. A recipe I could recite in my sleep.

This is not one of those times.

Christmas cookies are the Major Leagues of the cookie world. The one time of year when the goal is maximum wow factor. In other words, bring your A-game, people.

If you want a cookie that impresses, this is it. They’re everything a Christmas cookie should be. And I promise they taste as good as they look. Trust me, Santa will be impressed. Oh, and so will the other ladies at the company Christmas party. Not that you’re looking to impress anyone, of course…

Gingerbread Bells
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Active time:  1 1/2 hours
Start to finish:  2 hours, plus cooling time
Makes 3 1/2 dozen

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Desired food coloring

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and molasses and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between floured parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Stack dough in parchment on a baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. With a 3 1/2-inch bell-shaped cutter, cut out dough (reroll scraps, if desired). Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are firm and edges begin to brown, 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.

In a large bowl, using mixer, beat confectioners’ sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar on low until combined. With mixer on high, beat until icing is whipped and opaque, 4 minutes. Thin with water as needed to make a stiff but spreadable icing. Divide icing among bowls; tint with food coloring. Transfer icings to large separate zip-top bags and snip 1/8-inch hole in one corner of each bag. Frost cookies in one color, then pipe horizontal lines in a different color; drag a toothpick up and down through lines. Let sit until icing is set, 2 hours.

Disks of dough can be refrigerated overnight or frozen, up to 1 month, and thawed in the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature until soft enough to roll.

Store cookies in airtight containers, up to 1 week.

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