This recipe can be used to make the edible puzzles and reindeer cookies.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
For decorating edible puzzles
For decorating reindeer cookies
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup sanding sugar
- 26 white-chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup)
- 16 red mini candy-coated chocolates
- 5 small white gumdrops
Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl; set aside.
Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes; mix in spices and salt. Mix in egg and molasses, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined. Divide dough in half; pat into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
To make puzzles, cut rolled dough into six rectangles, each 6 by 9 inches (reroll scraps once). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Bake until cookies are set and edges are just starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. While cookies are hot, use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut out desired puzzle shapes. Carefully lift edges of parchment to keep puzzle pieces together; transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Fit a pastry bag with a 5/16-inch plain round tip (such as Ateco #3); fill with 1/2 cup untinted royal icing. Tie end with a rubber band; to prevent icing from drying out, stand bag, tip down, in a glass with a damp paper towel in the bottom. Tint remaining icing as desired; fill another pastry bag the same way.
Outline each puzzle piece with tinted icing; fill outlined area with more icing, smoothing with an offset spatula to make a thin layer. Let dry completely, about 1 hour. Keeping pieces together, use untinted icing to outline the shape of a tree (design should overlap all pieces); decorate area inside outline as desired. One at a time, lift each piece; sprinkle with sanding sugar, tapping off any excess. Let dry 1 hour; package in boxes, or store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
To make reindeer, use a 4 3/4-inch gingerbread-man cutter to make cookies (scraps can be rerolled once). For gift tags, cut with letter-shaped cookie cutters, and poke a hole with a straw. Transfer to baking sheets, and refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Bake until cookies are firm but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Melt semisweet chips in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly, and transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch plain round tip (such as Ateco #5). Pipe face and antlers with chocolate; sprinkle antlers with sanding sugar, tapping off any excess. Use white chocolate chips for eyes; pipe melted chocolate onto chips for pupils. Use red candy-coated chocolates for noses. Cut gumdrops lengthwise into 6 equal pieces; place one piece on each ear.