There are few things that say “December!” quite like the smell of gingerbread cookies, amiright?!
There is just something about the rolling, cutting, baking and decorating that is sure to get me in a festive mood.
But equally, there are few things more disappointing than making cookies that crumble and break when you try to decorate them.
If you’ve ever made and decorated gluten free cookies before, only to be disappointed when the cookies fell apart, you may be disinclined to believe me when I tell you that these gluten free gingerbread cookies will not do that. Really! ?
In fact, the cookies are so sturdy that last year I sent a box full of these little gingerbread people to my friend who is in the army and was stationed overseas at Christmas.
I’m not going to lie – despite the fact that these are easy to decorate without breaking, I was still a little apprehensive about shipping them halfway across the world. But with the cookies bagged in pairs, plus some careful bubble-wrapping and boxing, I was over the moon when they arrived and she posted a picture of them looking just as perfect as when they left my kitchen.
Because the dough for these gluten free gingerbread cookies is quite soft, you do need to chill it before you bake it. There’s no gluten that needs ‘relaxing’ though, so you can roll the dough out straight after making it. Then chill it just until it’s firm – which makes cutting out the shapes and transferring them to your waiting baking tray infinitely easier. No warped and creepy gingerbread people here, please-and-thank-you.
Then the shapes should be chilled again to make sure they don’t spread too much in the oven. It sounds like a lot of faffing about, but once you get a system going, it’s really very straightforward.
I prefer to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, as it means it doesn’t need to be dusted with more flour, which can make the cookies dry. I highly recommend reading Sweetapolita’s guide to making the perfect sugar cookie, I use all her tips for rolling the dough, including using dowels to make sure the dough is rolled out to an even thickness. It’s genius, I tell you.
I also used Sweetapolita’s royal icing recipe to decorate these little gingerbread people. Just don’t do what I did and thin it down too much, coz it won’t be quite as pretty. A couple of the colours got a little blobby and weird, but hey, at least the cookies got made. And I’m ok with not being perfect sometimes.
Narrator: Natalie was lying. She was never ok with anything not being perfect.
I decided to go with a pastel colour scheme instead of the usual festive colours, and my inspiration was a super pretty sprinkle medley from Kiwicakes that I was planning to use to decorate the cookies. But you know, I put the sprinkles in a drawer and forgot about them until after I had decorated. I blame the low-iron-induced brain-fog that I had at the time. But I made the most of the sprinkles and used them in the photos anyway.
Funnily enough, I use molasses in this recipe, and do you know what molasses contains? Iron, that’s what! I’m not going to claim that makes these a health food because I’m sure the amount in different kinds of molasses varies, but it is an interesting piece of information for the day. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll take any opportunity to kid yourself that your sweet treats are healthy.
If you don’t happen to have molasses on hand, you can use golden syrup instead, it gives the cookies a slightly lighter colour and flavour but they’ll taste just as good.
You can also adjust the level of spiciness in these cookies to suit your own tastes, I happen to be a big fan of ginger (might be genetic, since I have red hair?) so I like to put plenty in, but if you like things a little mellower then you can always reduce the ginger.
I’ve had these ‘bitten’ gingerbread people cutters for goodness knows how many years now. I’m 99% sure they were Wilton brand but I can’t seem to find them anywhere online now. Like they’ve completely vanished off the face of the earth.
What should you do if you want this look, but can’t find matching cutters? Simply use your favourite gingerbread person cutters, then use a scalloped cutter to cut out a ‘bite’ from the top.
There’s also no rule that gingerbread cookies are only for the holiday season.
And if there was a rule that said that, I would totally break it. Any time of year is a good time for year for spicy, gingery cookies.
- 625g gluten free flour
- 2 & 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 200g butter, at room temperature
- 200g brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 100g molasses OR 130g golden syrup
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
- Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, xanthan gum and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine well.
- Place the butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and molasses or golden syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl, if you’re using an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed just until well combined and creamy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients. You may need to stir in the last bit by hand. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead briefly until the dough holds together. Split the dough in half. (If making the dough in advance, then pat each ball of dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Let come to room temperature before rolling.)
- Roll out each half between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, until about 5mm thick. (See post for tips). Chill until firm.
- Heat oven to 170°C (about 340°F). Lower the temperature by 10° if using a fan-forced oven.
- Cut out shapes using your favourite cookie cutters. Arrange them one inch-ish apart on baking paper lined baking trays. If you have the time, put the trays in the fridge for 15-20 minutes for the dough to firm up again before baking. This helps reduce spreading.
- Bake for 8 - 12 minutes or until very lightly golden on the bottom. The exact baking time will depend on the size and shape of your cookies, so keep an eye on them. Cool for 5 minutes on the trays, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate as desired, and once dry store in an airtight container. They will keep well for several weeks.
Gluten-Free Flours I Used: 330g tapioca starch, 250g brown rice flour, 45g potato starch. Be aware that if you use different gluten-free flour than I did, your results may vary. Check out my Gluten Free Flour for Baking post for more tips.
If decorating with royal icing, make sure the icing/confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder you use are gluten-free. Same deal if you’re using a packaged royal icing mix. Gluten is sneaky. Don’t let it win.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 2
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 264Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 4g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and is only an estimate. Please do your own research with the particular products you're using if you have specific health needs or are following a special diet.
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