Children love these cookies. They like the fun shapes and the simple texture. They have a warm spiciness, and because they're not too sweet, they are perfect canvas for icing.
You can get the cookie recipe--another winner from Dorie Greenspan--right here at Epicurious. Most people would recommend using royal icing for piping designs, but I don't like eating it very much, and you have to either use eggwhites or go buy meringue powder at a specialty store. This recipe for Glacé Icing from Our Best Bites is a lovely alternative. You probably have the ingredients in the pantry already: confectioner's sugar, milk, light corn syrup and vanilla. We piped it straight out of a zippered freezer bag with the corner snipped off. Like royal icing, it hardens enough to stack the cookies without marring the designs, although it may take longer to dry.
The kids added all sorts of sprinkles to their creations, but I prefer simple white outlines on the spicy cookies. Not to mention, the process moves along more quickly if you're not switching between several colors. That's good for short attention spans!
I hope you're having a festive holiday, filled with the warmth of family, friends and at least a few homemade cookies. Thanks so much for visiting my kitchen this year! I'm looking forward to sharing more baking adventures with you in 2011!