The smell of gingerbread baking is one of the best (!!!!!!) smells ever. I sometimes keep dough in my freezer so I can make cookies past the holidays because they are so good. My favorite gingerbread recipe is an adaption of this one: Big Soft Ginger Cookies. My variation makes this crunchy crust all over the cookie, but leaves a warm, soft, inside. You can make these as drop cookies, or refrigerate them for an hour to roll out and cut into shapes.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (if rolling out the cookies, add 1/4 cup more flour to the dough)
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
1 1/8 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar, separate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 and 1/8cup sugar until light and fluffy. You want to make sure this is well incorporated, so there is no large chunks of butter.
Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.
Gradually stir the flour and spice mixture into the molasses mixture. A soft dough will form.
At this pint you can do one of two things. You can either roll out the dough to cut shapes or shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you are cutting the dough into shapes, make sure your refrigerate the dough for an hour, making sure to wrap it in saran wrap. Once chilled, flour your surface, roll out the dough, and cut into shapes. Sprinkle with sugar and add some raisin eyes to your gingerbread men. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
If you are shaping into walnut sized balls, get a bowl and add the 2tbs sugar. I decided to freeze my dough to use closer to Christmas when I make gifts for the people in my office. So for this example, you will see me only making one drop cookie. I wanted to be able to show you an example. Once the sugar is in the bowl, roll your dough into a ball, half the size of a golf ball. Place the cookie in the sugar and roll around until completely coated. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart, then flatten each cookie slightly.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.