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Gingerbread reindeer are a perfect Christmas treat! No cookie cutters are needed to make these adorable, tasty, gift worthy classic gingerbread cookies! These sweet reindeer feature a classic rolled gingerbread cookie dough, chocolate drops, fun candy eyes and noses alongside chocolate piped antlers. Kiddos love creating these, and they make perfect neighbor or teacher gifts!
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It's finally time to let the holiday baking commence and I'm so excited! I'll be making some of my favorite classics like salted caramel chocolate shortbread, flourless peppermint chocolate cookies, classic snowflake sugar cookies, and of course my favorite Christmas candy, chocolate peanut clusters!
If you've read the blog for a while, you know I have a love for travel and for animal encounters. My absolute favorite of all time was when we fed wild reindeer in the Highlands of Scotland. I mean, talk about an experience of a lifetime! That was several years ago, and I still think of it often. Especially at Christmas when reindeer are all over the place!
They are just too precious and cute, and one day it clicked that by simply turning a chocolate candy drop on it's side, you could get a good replica of their sweet snouts onto a cookie! And there is nothing more classic than gingerbread when it comes to Christmas cookies!
One of the issues I find during the holidays is that I'm always running out of time, or things don't go according to plan. There have been many days when my kiddos wanted to make holiday cookies and we might have had time, but I hadn't thought about thawing butter in time. Am I the only one that does this? Surely I'm not alone?
Enter our new BFF, Country Crock® Baking Sticks! Unlike other products, Country Crock® Baking Sticks require absolutely NO softening time! Yes, you totally read that right. They are naturally soft and creamy, and are ready to go when you are ready to make the cookie dough!
Simply substitute in a 1 to 1 ratio for all your recipes that call for butter. They are available in salted and unsalted. Simply click on the type you'd like to use to find out the nearest Walmart that has them in stock!
I've been cooking with them for a few weeks and they have been a game changer, a total lifesaver! No more trying to soften butter in the microwave (that never works, am I right?!!!).
Making the gingerbread dough for the reindeer cookies:
Let's get cooking, shall we!
I typically do make these in my stand mixer, but it's a bit easier to take photos using a handheld mixer! Never fear though, you can even get by with just a spoon - the total old fashioned way!
The dough for the reindeer cookies is a classic gingerbread cookie but you could easily substitute a peanut butter cookie. My family adores gingerbread this time of year, so we make quite a bit. The key - FRESH ginger. If you've never worked with ginger root before it can be a bit intimidating, but it shouldn't be!
Ginger root is typically found in the area around onions and garlic in the grocery store. If you can't find it, ask your produce person! Simply use a knife to remove the skin off the root, and you will expose the yellowish interior. I left some of the skin on in the picture above for photography, but you'll want to be sure to remove it all.
Grating fresh ginger can be a challenge. I use a special ginger grater I picked up probably 15 years ago. It's been worth it's weight in gold, and I use it on nights that I make chicken curry. Here is an awesome ginger grating hack that I stumbled upon.
I really like the special grater because it eliminates the strings that ginger can leave. When you rub against it, the strings are left behind, and you can cut that portion off and rub some more. But if I didn't have this handy tool, I'd totally use that hack. Who knew?
The key is to get the ginger/baking sticks nice and fluffy and also pale in color. You'll want to achieve this before adding in your brown sugar. Notice I used light brown sugar. In a pinch, you can use dark brown sugar. Either way, make sure that is a packed level cup!
Working your way through the rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward. The only other tip I would want to throw in is when working with molasses. A few weeks ago I shared exactly what molasses is and why people bake with it. One of the best tips I have learned over the years is to spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray before adding in the sticky molasses. It will just slide out!!! It's amazing!
Once your dough is all made, we are ready to roll into dough balls! So let's grab your cookie scoop!
Using a small to medium scoop, scoop out a portion of the dough. I like to use a medium scoop but not fill it quite full. You'll want to roll it in your hands to create a ball about 1 inch. The good news is if you make your cookies too big, it just means larger antlers!
Once you've made your dough ball, roll it around in the granulated sugar. Give it a nice coating all the way around. Place on your lined cookie sheet with plenty of room between them, as they do spread out and flatten.
The dough requires no chilling, but if you are short on time, or want to save for later, you totally can. Just stir the dough well before baking, or if you've already made dough balls, allow to sit for a minute or two.
Once they come out of the oven, work fast! Cookies continue to bake a bit outside the oven, so as long as the middle isn't still mushy, you should be fine!
You can decorate your reindeer later, BUT the chocolate drop needs to be placed IMMEDIATELY after removing the cookies from the oven.
Place the chocolate drop onto the cookie towards the bottom of the cookie, with the "nose" touching the edge of the cookie. You'll also place it on its side, which will seem awkward at first.
Press the drop down, but don't press too hard, as the chocolate begins to melt from the heat of the cookie. Place in each cookie, and allow to cool on the cookie sheet 5-10 minutes. After, place on a cooling rack for another 1-2 hours.
Pretty soon your tray will look like this. Pretty funny, huh. Doesn't look like much yet!
IMPORTANT-- you can begin to decorate your cookies, but the drop will melt under the pressure and lose its shape. I usually wait 1-2 hours before adding the weight of the eyes on. I've placed them in the fridge in a pinch as well to speed things along.
How to make gingerbread reindeer cookies:
Now we are ready to make our fun reindeer faces! Let's gather all our supplies! Follow the directions for melting the chocolate for the antlers.
If you don't have the squeeze bottle, you can use a plastic sandwich baggie in a pinch with the corner snipped off, or you can simply use a piping bag with a tip. Whatever you have on hand!
To place the eyes, add a bit of the chocolate on the back. Set towards the top of the drop slightly off center. Hold for about 3-5 seconds.
The eye usually stays on pretty well, but when you add the second one next to it, it will sometimes slide a bit. Simply slide back into place and hold both at the same time.
Next, do the same with the red noses, only place them at the tip of the drop. My bag of candy only had red and green, but I wish I'd grabbed a bag that had brown. How fun would it be to have regular reindeer and just one special Rudolph? Either way, they are so cute, even if it is a total herd of Rudolphs!
Pipe the antlers onto the top of the cookie starting at the chocolate drop. Antlers in mother nature are totally unique, so just go for it! One of my favorite reindeer of the herd we fed only had one single little antler!
I like to make a long- tailed Y shape, and come back down and add some limbs that come off at the lower part. It's harder to explain than to do it!
There you have it- magical reindeer cookies! Aren't they just so precious?!!!
I'm so glad I discovered Country Crock® Baking Sticks just in time for the busy holiday season. Do you have any good time hacks like this one?
These reindeer cookies are awesome for a cookie swap, everyone raves about them! Wanna check out more amazing cookies you'll want to include in your next cookie swap party? Find more recipes for cookie swaps as well as free printables and tips on hosting your own!
Some basic tips for hosting a cookie swap:
- send out invites at least 2 weeks in advance. People need time to plan!
- give a clear outline of how many treats need to be made to be fair. For example, 48 of the reindeer cookie, but 96 if ½ the size
- have a running online document that details who will be bringing what. No one wants duplicates!
- have your friends also input their recipe online so that everyone has an easy digital copy
- have a friend or 2 that doesn't cook? Don't leave them out. Let them bring the boxes, containers or ribbons!
Discover more about Country Crock® Baking Sticks by visiting their social media sites!
Don't forget to pin to your favorite cookies board on Pinterest!
Gingerbread Reindeer Cookie Recipe:
Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies
- 1 cup Country Crock® Unsalted Baking Sticks or unsalted butter 2 sticks
- 2 tablespoon ginger freshly grated
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅓ cup molasses
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon water boiled
- ¼ cup sugar for rolling the dough balls in
For decorating the reindeer cookies:
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon canola oil
- 48 chocolate drops
- 48 red candy noses
- 96 candy eyes
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking trays with parchment or spray lightly with non-stick spray.
To make the gingerbread cookie dough:
- Start by grating your fresh ginger. Remove the skin off the ginger, and using a ginger grater produce 2 tablespoons.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, begin to beat the Country Crock® Unsalted Baking Sticks until it becomes fluffy. Add in the fresh ginger and continue to beat until the whole mixture is light and airy and well combined.
- Add the brown sugar to the Country Crock® baking sticks and ginger mixture, beating until everything is mixed in well.
- Next, add in the molasses, beating until combined.
- In a medium bowl, place all the dry ingredients: flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Using a whisk sift all the ingredients together. Sift with the whisk until everything is distributed evenly.
- Place about a ½ cup water in a microwave safe cup, such as a coffee cup. You don't need very much, but this is the easy way to get it! Cook for 1 minute.
- In a small bowl, place 2 teaspoon baking soda. Add in 1 tablespoon from the boiling water, and stir well. It will bubble and then stop fizzing.
- Add ½ the flour to the wet cookie dough mixture. Either beat in with your stand mixer, a handheld mixer, or with a spoon. Once folded in, add the baking soda water mixture. Make sure you give it another stir before pouring it over the mixture.
- Mix in the baking soda mixture, and then finish by mixing in the rest of the flour mixture. Continue folding over until everything is distributed.
- Using a small to medium scoop, scoop out a portion of the dough. I like to use a medium scoop but not fill it quite full. You'll want to roll it in your hands to create a ball about 1 inch.
- Roll the ball into the small bowl of granulated sugar, rolling all around to make sure it is totally covered. Place on baking sheets. Place balls about 1 ½- 2 inches apart to ensure they will not bake into one another. I can fit about 12 on a medium to large cookie sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes watching carefully. The cookies will flatten and begin to crack a bit on top. They will begin to just brown on the outside edges. Make sure they don't get too dark!
- Cookies continue to bake a bit outside the oven, so as long as the middle isn't still mushy, you should be fine!You can decorate your reindeer later, BUT the chocolate drop needs to be placed IMMEDIATELY after removing the cookies from the oven.
Making the reindeer
- Place the chocolate drop onto the cookie which will still be warm and fresh out of the oven. You will place it towards the bottom of the cookie, with the "nose" touching the edge of the cookie. You'll also place it on it's side, which will seem awkward at first.
- Press the drop down, but don't press too hard, as the chocolate begins to melt from the heat of the cookie. Place in each cookie, and allow to cool on the cookie sheet 5-10 minutes. After, place on a cooling rack for another 1-2 hours.
- IMPORTANT-- you can begin to decorate your cookies, but the drop will melt under the pressure and lose its shape. I usually wait 1-2 hours before adding the weight of the eyes on. I've placed them in the fridge in a pinch as well to speed things along.
For the decorations:
- In a small microwave dish, mix the chocolate chips with canola oil. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Microwave 20 seconds more, stir. If still not smooth, microwave 10-20 seconds more. Don't over microwave! The chocolate is ready when all the lumps are out. They continue to melt as you stir! Once it is nice and smooth, transfer to a piping bag, or a candy squeeze bottle.
- Pipe the antlers onto the top of the cookie starting at the chocolate drop. Antlers in mother nature are totally unique, so just go for it! I like to make a long-tailed Y shape, and come back down and add some limbs that come off at the lower part. It's harder to explain than to do it!
- To place the eyes, add a bit of the chocolate on the back. Set towards the top of the drop, slightly off center. Hold for about 3-5 seconds. It usually stays on pretty well, but when you add the second one next to it, it will sometimes slide a bit. Simply slide back into place and hold both at the same time.
- Next, do the same with the red noses, only place them at the tip of the drop.
- Allow to cool and you are all set! Aren't they super cute?!!!!