Gingerbread, a quintessential holiday treat, is also perfect for Valentine’s Day. The subtle fragrance of molasses and spices in these soft, cake-like cookies warms the heart and soul. Lemon icing is a traditional topping – but when your generous neighbor brings you fresh oranges from their tree, you can make a delicious alternative. This recipe makes a big batch, so you’re sure to have plenty; wrap them up as individual valentine treats, or fill up a platter and share to your heart’s delight!
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 C granulated sugar
1/3 C molasses
15 oz container ricotta cheese
4 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger and allspice*
1/2 tsp each: cloves and nutmeg*
pinch of cardamom (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
*Substitute spices with 1 1/2 T gingerbread spice mix
3 C confectioner's sugar
Juice of 1 fresh orange or lemon, plus additional as needed
Zest of 1 fresh orange or lemon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until well incorporated. Mix in the ricotta cheese and molasses. You may see small lumps of the ricotta; that's okay, they'll smooth into the batter when you add the dry ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the molasses-cheese mixture, and mix until well blended. Use a two-tablespoon cookie scoop to drop the batter onto the cookie sheets. Bake approximately 12 minutes, until the tops are just firm to the touch. Cool one minute on the baking sheet, then remove to a rack and cool completely.
Make the icing by combining the confectioner's sugar, citrus zest, and juice in a bowl.
Whisk the mixture and add more juice, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you want.
Dip the top of each cookie into the icing and allow the excess to drip off, then return to the cooling rack. Top with seasonal sprinkles, more orange/lemon zest, or thinly sliced crystallized ginger.
Allow the cookies to set, then store in an airtight container.
For the more recipes, variations, tips and Sue’s Gingerbread Spice Mix, visit www.itsokaytoeatthecupcake.com.