If there's one scent that screams out "festive," it's the scent of baking gingerbread cookies. And if there's one activity that screams out "festive," it's the decorating of said gingerbread cookies. Nothing makes one bask in the glow of holiday togetherness like a cozy afternoon of cookie baking with the children.
To be honest, we all know that making cookies with children is less of a warm and peaceful activity, and more of a chaotic and Lord of the Flies-like activity, at least in my house. But that's why I love this recipe; spending a day making dough, and then chilling dough, and then rolling out and baking cookies, and then waiting for the cookies to cool, and THEN decorating cookies with crazed children who are eating icing and decorative candies by the handful would probably do me in. I would morph from my usual Buddy the Elf-like persona to one resembling the Grinch.
This recipe saves me from trying to stop Christmas from coming for the poor little Whos. It is great for making ahead of time because the dough can be frozen for up to three months; make the dough when you have ten minutes to yourself, and then bake the cookies when you feel like it. Brilliant, no? In my case I made this dough in November, then I baked the cookies while my children were at karate. By the time they came home they had cooled enough for the decorating extravaganza to begin, and I didn't even have to put Bailey's in my coffee. Well, I did, but I didn't HAVE to, if you know what I mean.
This recipe for frosting works great, but I confess that I often foist store-bought tubes of icing on my children so they can easily decorate to their heart's content. Either way works well.
For the cookies:
Yield: Makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutters (size DOES matter, it turns out).
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens