This healthy gingerbread cut-out cookie recipe has all the flavor of traditional gingerbread cookies but incorporates white whole-wheat flour and uses less butter. Pull out all your cookie cutters and decorate these adorable cookies with natural decorating sugar and icing.
- To prepare cookie dough: Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, cloves and salt in a medium bowl. Beat oil, butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg and orange zest in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended.
- With the mixer on low speed, then medium speed, beat about half the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until incorporated. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated. Let the dough stand for 5 minutes. It should be somewhat firm, but not at all dry. If it seems overly sticky, stir in up to 2 additional tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Place one third on a 12-inch-long sheet of parchment paper and shape into a disk. Top with a second sheet of parchment. Roll the dough out between the parchment into an 8-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough in the paper on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Freeze on the baking sheet until cold and firm, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Place another baking sheet in the freezer to chill too (it will be used under the dough as the cookies are cut out).
- To shape & bake cookies: Position a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
- Working with one portion of dough at a time, remove from the freezer and place on the chilled baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of parchment and cut out cookies with 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet with a wide, thin spatula, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough. (If the dough gets too soft, freeze until firm again. As you cut out cookies, set aside the scraps. Shape all the scraps back into a disk and reroll between parchment. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before cutting out.) Sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar and gently pat to help it adhere.
- Bake the cookies on the center rack, one pan at a time, until browned on the bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.
- To prepare icing & finish decorating cookies: Stir together confectioners’ sugar and dried egg whites in a small bowl. Stir in water, corn syrup and vanilla (or almond) extract and a few drops of red dye to create the desired color. Add a little more confectioners’ sugar if necessary to achieve a thicker consistency for piping. Spoon the icing into a pastry bag with a writing tip or into a small plastic bag with a tiny tip of one corner snipped off. Pipe decorations onto the cooled cookies. Let stand until the icing sets before storing the cookies.