Sugar, gingerbread spice, and everything nice! That’s the saying right? Okay okay, well it definitely should be. Christmas is right around the corner which means all the batches of cookies and cakes and delicious treats are filling up kitchens and tummies! But would any Christmas baking be complete without some spiced shortbread cookies? They’re cozy and spiced, baked to be crumbly and melt in your mouth delicious. I would say this is a sophisticated cookie that you’ll be reaching for in the cold winter mornings to compliment your coffee with- but let’s be real, this is a FUN cookie. It comes with a super simple sugar frosting that can be used to decorate however elegant or silly you would like. (Personally I’m looking forward to baking a batch with my nephews and letting them go to town with decorating in their own special style).
I’ve always loved gingerbread men cookies. They’re so fun and festive, and they make the best treats to gift this season! Surprisingly, I have never made any gingerbread shaped cookies before- nor have I ever piped sugar icing to decorate either! All around, it turned out to be such an easy and fun dessert- I’m really not sure what I’ve been waiting for! I’m usually not a big fan of sugar decorations, but in this cookie: it works! It balances the spiced calmness of the cookie with a delicate sugar topping, for a tasty end result! I got a package of cookie cutters from Target early this season, so I was able to create some gingerbread men and some iced snowflakes to go along! I liked free handing all the decorations, it made them seem unique and personable with their own characteristics and details! Feel free to separate the sugar icing into different piping bags and add food coloring to create different colors to work with. (I will definitely be doing this for my nephews- I think they’d love to create such a fun and colorful cookie!)
You can also make this dough ahead of time and plastic wrap it to keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I took it out 30 minutes before I was ready to roll it out and attack it with my cookie cutters, and it was still soft and moldable. After you decorate with sugar icing, let them rest at room temperature until the icing is hardened. Then store in an airtight container and the icing won’t smear off these cookies! Hope you guys love this recipe as much as I do, enjoy your Christmas baking (and eating)!!
Spiced Shortbread Cookies
For Spiced Cookies:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- 1/4 tsp cloves powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp heavy cream or milk
For Sugar Icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp milk
For Spiced Cookies:
- In the KitchenAid mixer, fix in the paddle attachment. Add the cold butter, powdered sugar, salt, five spice powder, cloves powder, and cinnamon. Beat together on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes.
- Scrape bowl to gather dough. Then, on low speed, add in flour gradually. Add in extract and milk/cream, and allow dough to mix together.
- Set the dough on a silicone non-sticking baking mat that is sprinkled with flour. Roll out dough to 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness. Make sure to rotate or flip dough after every few rolls so it does not stick to mat. Then tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in fridge for 2 hours minimum.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and then line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Take out the chilled dough and unwrap it. Using your preferred cookie cutter, begin creating cookie cut outs of dough. Transfer them to prepared sheets, about an inch apart.
- Bake until cookie edges have started to barely brown, about 12-15 minutes. Let cookies cool at room temperature.
For Sugar Icing:
- In a bowl, mix together the powdered sugar with extract and milk. Using a fork, mix together until it eventually becomes a paste. Pour into a piping bag or ziplock bag with a small corner snipped off.
- Decorate your cookies with whatever design you would like. Allow the icing to harden completely. Once hardened then stack gently and store in airtight container.