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Sift your dry ingredients together, set aside
Microwave vegetable shortening (or melt on stovetop in pot) until liquid but not hot
In a stand mixer, whisk shortening, sugar and molasses together. Add the egg and mix until combined
Switch to the paddle attachment and add your dry ingredients. Mix on medium/low until a smooth ball starts to form, do not over mix
Roll out dough onto parchment paper or a baking mat to 1/4" thick. Try to make the dough as even in thickness as possible.
Freeze dough for 20 minutes (optional)
Cut shapes out using your templates. Remove excess dough (can be used to re-roll out and make more pieces)
Bake in an oven set to 300º F for 50-60 mins until very firm
Once gingerbread is done, remove from the oven and let fully cool before moving. Your gingerbread is now ready to be assembled.
Combine your egg whites, sifted powdered sugar, and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attached.
Mix on low to get the ingredients combined then bump up to high for 1-2 minutes. Add in your vanilla extract and whip until it's white. No need to mix for longer than 5 minutes.
Place the royal icing into a bowl or container with a lid. Your THICK royal icing is now ready to be thinned down to the consistency you desire.