Gingerbread Snowflakes with Royal Icing

Recipe and photo by Martha Stewart

Makes 16 cookies

Cookies: 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar 4 teaspoons ground ginger 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt 2 large eggs 1 cup unsulfured molasses Royal Icing: 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing Juice of 1 lemon 3 drops glycerin Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Cookies: Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Make the icing: Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour.

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