Make the Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper.
Cut a large piece of parchment paper and roll out the gingerbread on top of it to ¼ inch. Using any Christmas themed cutter, cut out pieces of dough and use a palette knife to transfer them to the lined baking sheets. Leave space for them to spread a little.
Using a straw, press one end into each of the cookies where you would like to thread a ribbon to hang, twist the straw, and pull away to remove a circle of dough. Alternatively, use a skewer to make a hole.
Place in the freezer for 5 minutes until hard. Bake in the oven in batches for 6 to 10 minutes depending on size, until golden brown at the edges. Make sure the hanging holes are still large enough to thread ribbon through; if not, use the straw or skewer again to increase the size.
Let cool for 5 minutes on the pans, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Make the Royal Icing
Sift the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the beaten egg white and lemon juice.
Whisk on low speed, so you do not incorporate too much air into the icing, for 2 to 3 minutes until you have a smooth, but not wet, stiff peak consistency. It should be dense and spreadable but hold a stiff peak. If it looks dry and crumbly, add a little water. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little extra confectioners’ sugar.
You now have stiff peak icing for sticking houses together and placing decorations onto icing. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. The icing can be prepared ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
You can adjust this icing to make soft peak and flood icing. Soft peak – Add a drop of water at a time until you have icing that holds a soft peak but does not spread on its own. Use for piping lines, borders, and decorations. Flood icing – Add a teaspoon of water at a time until you have a thick but runny icing that smooths out on its own within 15 seconds but not so runny that it runs off the edge of your cookie. Use for filling in outlined areas of cookies.
If you have no piping bags, make your own by twisting a tight cone out of parchment paper, or use a small plastic food bag and cut one corner off.
If you do not have piping nozzles, you can just cut the end of the piping bag off. Note that a nozzle will give you better results as you have more control.
Only half fill the piping bag with icing so it does not ooze out of the top when you squeeze.
To make chocolate icing, substitute 3/4 cup of cocoa powder in place of an equal amount of confectioners’ sugar.
Decorate the Cookies
Add a little water to the royal icing until you reach soft peak consistency. Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Decorate the cookies with dots, lines, and swirls, then add the sprinkles.
Let cool completely for 4 hours before tying with ribbon and hanging. Have fun with the hanging materials—use twine, colored ribbon or lace.
About this recipe
Recipe from Gingerbread Wonderland: 30 Magical Houses, Cookies, & Cakes, by Mima Sinclair.
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