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Gingerbread reindeer cookies are a cute new take on a holiday classic

Diana Johnson is a professional recipe developer, food photographer, freelance writer and cooking instructor. She's also a mother who believes that kids can love healthy food, and that no child should have to experience food insecurity. ...

Upside-down gingerbread men become Santa's reindeer in these adorable cookies

Skip the traditional gingerbread men, and turn them into these adorable reindeer.

These cookies are incredibly flavorful thanks to loads of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. But the real delight comes in the decorating.

Upside-down gingerbread men become Santa's reindeer in these adorable cookies

My toddler was so excited when I rotated each "little man" he'd cut out and began decorating them upside down to make reindeer faces. A squeeze bottle filled with royal icing makes decorating a breeze, but you can also use a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.

Upside-down gingerbread men become Santa's reindeer in these adorable cookies

The reindeer noses are red M&M'S, and the eyes are simply upside-down chocolate chips in an oval of royal icing. Be sure to follow the instructions in cutting the point off each chocolate chip. It makes them a lot easier to place and helps them stay flat as the icing dries.

Upside-down gingerbread men become Santa's reindeer in these adorable cookies

These reindeer cookies are definitely a new holiday tradition for our family. My almost-2-year-old loved helping me make them as much as he loves helping me eat them!

Upside-down gingerbread men become Santa's reindeer in these adorable cookies

Gingerbread reindeer cookies recipe

The icing recipe will make about double the icing you actually need, so store the extra icing in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use for more cookies or even a gingerbread house. If you don't want to buy a jumbo bag of M&M'S to sort through, then you'll find most party supply stores carry individual colors of M&M'S.

Yields 18

Prep time: 1 hour | Bake time: 20 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients:

For the cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup molasses

For the icing

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Decorating supplies

  • Gingerbread man cookie cutter (I used the Wilton Comfort Grip Gingerbread Boy Cutter) 
  • Squeeze bottle
  • 36 chocolate chips
  • 18 red M&M'S

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking soda.
  2. In a large bowl (I used a stand mixer), beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy.
  3. Mix the egg and molasses into the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the dry ingredients about 1/2 cup at a time, and mix well.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 balls, and dust them with flour. Wrap 1 ball in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it.
  6. Place the other ball on a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top, and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Place the rolled sheet of dough in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Remove the dough from the freezer, and use your cookie cutter to cut out 9 gingerbread men. You will have to reroll your scraps to get all 9 but should not need to freeze the dough again.
  10. Place the gingerbread men on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are firm and the edges are just starting to darken.
  11. Transfer the cookies to a wire baking rack to cool completely, and repeat steps 6 to 11 with the second ball of dough.
  12. For the icing, whisk the egg whites until frothy (I used a stand mixer again).
  13. Mix in the vanilla.
  14. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time while mixing on low speed.
  15. Turn the speed up to high, and whisk for 6 to 8 minutes, until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  16. Scoop the icing into a squeeze bottle.
  17. Pipe antlers, eyebrows, ears and a mouth onto each cooled cookie.
  18. Using a pair of scissors or a paring knife, snip the points off each chocolate chip.
  19. One at a time, pipe 2 ovals for eyes onto each cookie. Place a chocolate chip upside down into each oval.
  20. Working with 4 cookies at a time, place a dot of icing where you want the noses to go, and stick on a red M&M'S.
  21. Let the icing harden completely before stacking the cookies.

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More creative Christmas cookie recipes

Cherry-filled gingerbread man tarts
Adorable snowman tea cake cookies
3-D Christmas tree cookies

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