Soft, chewy, and flavorful gingerbread cut-out cookies. The addition of black pepper brings out the spices, balanced with a little bit of fresh orange zest. I’m not a royal icing fan, so I opted for a stiff buttercream icing instead. These are the best Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies I’ve ever made.
Heavily adapted from [Food Network|http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gingerbread-cookies-101-recipe/index.html]
Into a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar until fluffy and well-combined. Add the molasses, followed by the egg and orange zest, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again until combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour/spice mixture until it all comes together. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness (thinner for crisp cookies, thicker for soft, chewy cookies). Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and place on the prepared baking sheets. Roll, cut, and repeat with the remaining dough. Bake in the preheated oven 7-9 minutes or until just cooked through but still soft (mine were perfect at 8 minutes). Carefully remove cookies to a cooling rack.
!To Make the Stiff Buttercream Icing:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the butter. Sift in the powdered sugar gradually. Add the vanilla and the half and half. Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Spread on cookies using a knife or a piping bag with a tip (or a plastic zipper bag with the corner cut off). Allow the icing to set before storing cookies in airtight containers.