Gingerbread Cookies
from the Williams-Sonoma Holiday Storybook Cookie Cutter set.
  1. To make the dough: Be sure to have all ingredients at room temperature. Over a sheet of parchment paper, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale yellow, about 4-6 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat for 1 minute. reduce the speed to low and add the molasses, beating until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, beating in each addition before adding more. Beat just until combined, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Using floured hands, form the dough into a smooth mound and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove 1 dough disk at a time from the refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes. Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll out to a thickness of 1/4 to 3/8 inch. This thickness is important to ensure the baked cookies will fit together.
  3. To cut out and bake the cookies: Dip the cutters into flour just before using and cut out the shapes. Using an offset spatula, carefully transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets, putting similar-size pieces on the same pan; snowman bases and reindeer legs on one; sleigh sides, treetops and tree bases on another; and snowman bodies, reindeer bodies and sleigh ends on another. The sides of each notch need to be parallel so the notch will fit into the interlocking piece after baking; if the sides have stretched apart, gently push them towards each other so they are parallel. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather up the scraps, reroll and cut out additional cookies. Refrigerate the cookies until firm, about 20 minutes.
  4. Bake the cookies until lightly browned on the bottom, about 4-5 minutes for snowman bases and reindeer legs; 6-7 minutes for snowman bodies, reindeer bodies and sleigh ends; and 8-9 minutes for sleigh sides, treetops and tree bases. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes. If the dough has spread into the notches during baking, use a paring knife to gently trim off the excess cookie while still warm so the cookies will interlock when assembled. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets, then decorate as desired and assemble. Makes 4 or 5 of each type of cookie.
  5. Decorating Tips: When decorating with frosting or royal icing, be sure to have enough space around the interlocking slots to ensure the cookies will fit together.