One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking cookies. There’s something slightly meditative about mixing the ingredients together, slicing and cutting out shapes, and taking your time icing them or piling up the frosting on each cookie.
I have lots of distinct memories around Christmas cookies, but one of my favorites was at my aunt’s house with family for an early Christmas dinner. My aunt is a brilliant chef and baker, and I was helping her in the kitchen—she was teaching me how to make frosting from scratch—zesting an orange over the frosting mixture when she said, “You know what this needs? A little brandy!” With a giggle, she splashed a little into the bowl. It was so good. And thus the beginning of my love for mixing in a little booze, and a little orange, with my frosting.
I’ve made this gingerbread cookie recipe for the last two years, and it never fails! These cookies are crispy on the edges, and slightly chewy in the center. I love the spice of the gingerbread combined with the bright, citrus-flavored icing. Cointreau is an A+ addition to layer in the orange flavoring, and adding just a little something special to traditional gingerbread cookies. If you’re not familiar, Cointreau is a French liqueur made from a combination of sweet and bitter orange peels. It’s great in margaritas and cookie icing. I promise this post isn’t sponsored by Cointreau, I’m just a fan!
Gingerbread Cookies with Cointreau Icing
Yields about 2 dozen cookies
Prep time: 1 hour 10 – 20 minutes
Bake time: 8 minutes
Icing setting time: At least 2 hours
- Cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
- Large and medium mixing bowls
- Electric hand mixer or KitchenAid mixer
- Plastic wrap for chilling the dough
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau
- 1 teaspoons orange zest
- Orange zest for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer:
- Cream the stick of butter until fluffy.
- Add the 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Mix well until the texture becomes creamy.
- Slowly mix in the 3/4 cup molasses and the egg.
Then mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl:
- Whisk together the 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix:
- With the electric hand mixer on a slow speed, add the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients, about half of a cup at a time, until all the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure you get everything mixed in.
- Using your hands, form your dough into a flat disc and wrap it in plastic wrap.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or even overnight. Don’t skip this step!
Once the dough is chilled:
- Roll out your gingerbread dough, to about 1/4 inch thick, on a lightly-floured surface using a well-floured rolling pin. This dough tends to get a little sticky, so don’t be shy with the flour.
- Using cookie cutters, create the shapes you want and transfer them to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- You can take the scraps and form them back together to roll out more gingerbread cookies.
- Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, rotating your cookie sheet at the 4 minute mark so your cookies bake evenly.
- Allow the gingerbread cookies to cool on a wire rack before you ice them.
Now for the icing:
- Whisk together the cup of confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of Cointreau.
- Continue to whisk until the icing is a thick liquid, forming a slow-dripping ribbon off your whisk.
- Transfer the icing to a squeeze bottle or icing bag for easy decorating, or spread onto the cooled cookies with a knife.
- Sprinkle a pinch of orange zest over each cookie while the icing is still wet.
- Let the icing set and firm up for at least 2 hours.