Friends, how do we feel about our Christmas shopping? Have we had presents purchased for everyone on our lists since Halloween? Or do we not even think about it until December 23? Usually, I’m firmly planted in between every year — after Thanksgiving, I go into a little bit of a panic mode and then I buy everything for everyone in an anxious flurry. Then, it’s December 1 and I’m done (though wrapping presents never, ever happens until it’s the night before Christmas and I forget and frantically wrap everything together with Mom’s extra wrapping paper, THANKS MOM).
This year, I’ve been much more relaxed on the shopping situation, pacing myself on all fronts in hopes that this new approach keeps me more calm and collected. Though I still haven’t wrapped anything. Should probably get on that.
ANYWAY, if you’re scrambling to come up with gift ideas, I say bake a batch of these ridiculously (no, really, ridiculously) soft gingerbread crinkle cookies and give them to friends and family. Or, if you’re all set on shopping, bake a batch of these cookies for yourself and enjoy them on the couch while watching Hallmark Christmas movies (I hear A Christmas Prince is worth a watch, FYI).
About that ridiculous softness — no cookie I’ve baked has ever been softer. When I tested these cookies, the first batch came out a little crisper, less sweet and a little too thin. They still tasted great, but they lacked a bit in height and softness. So I increased the baking powder for some lift, added more butter and brown sugar (YOLO) and rolled them into smaller dough balls so they would bake faster, thereby having less of an opportunity to spread in the oven.
The result was extra soft, perfectly sweet, classically gingerbread-y, and crinkly on the edges with a dusting of powdered sugar all around. A Christmas cookie worthy of any holiday party, cookie exchange, plate by the fireplace with a glass of milk for Santa — you name it, these cookies are it.
A few tips to take into consideration:
1. Be sure to refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. When the dough is freshly mixed, it’s very soft, and if you get too hasty and bake it right away, it’s more likely to spread thin in the oven. The refrigeration helps not only with shaping but with dough stability in the oven, so the cookies bake with more height in the centers, ensuring that softness.
2. Don’t overbake the cookies! Take them out of the oven as soon as the edges are set. The centers might be a little underbaked at first, but they’ll continue to bake a bit as the cookies cool on the cookie sheet and the end result will be ridiculously soft, as previously explained.
3. Be liberal with the powdered sugar coating. The more powdered sugar on the cookie dough ball before baking, the more of it will be retained after baking. Unlike traditional crinkle cookies, some of the powdered sugar on these cookies will dissolve during baking, but there’s still enough of it that stays bright white to give them that classic crinkle cookie vibe.
4. Look for “robust” or “rich taste” molasses and use that in this recipe. If you can’t find it, light molasses (sometimes just labeled “molasses”) works, too. I don’t recommend blackstrap molasses for this recipe, as it’s less sweet.
Whether you bake these soft gingerbread crinkle cookies for a Christmas party, for a cookie exchange, for Santa, for funsies, or to accompany you for your last-minute gift-wrapping session (um, hai, it me), you — and everyone else who gets to enjoy them — will be glad you did.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- 1 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup molasses (rich taste or robust)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves and salt to combine. In a separate large bowl using electric hand mixer or in bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on high speed 2 minutes until smooth and light. On low speed, stir in egg, then molasses, then milk. Mixture will be slightly lumpy; this is OK.
- Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Cover bowl and refrigerate dough 1 hour up to overnight.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll each ball in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar, until well-coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, spacing dough at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake 9 to 11 minutes until edges of cookies are just set. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.