In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to
high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, ginger, pepper, baking soda,
salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl
occasionally. Beat in egg and molasses until combined. Beat in as much of
the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any
2. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours or until easy
3. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to
1/4-inch thickness. Using a 6x4-inch house-shaped cookie cutter, cut out
dough. cut out small heart-shaped windows from houses if desired. Cut
additional heart from scraps for decorations. Place house shapes on the
prepared cookie sheet about 1 inch apart; place heart cutouts on a
separate prepared cookie sheet because they may bake at a rate different
from the heart shapes.
5. Bake house shapes in a 350 degree F oven about 10 minutes or until tops
of cookies appear dry (bake heart shapes about 8 minutes). Cool on cookie
sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.
6. When cookies are cool, decorate if desired with heart cutouts, candies,
and icing, attaching candies and cutouts with the icing. Makes about 8
In a medium mixing
bowl combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons meringue
powder*. Add 3 tablespoons cold water. Beat with an electric mixer on low
speed until mixture is combined; then beat on medium to high speed for 5
to 8 minutes or until mixture forms stiff peaks. (If mixture seems stiff
while beating, add water, 1/2 teaspoons at a time. Icing should be fairly
thick for piping. For a thinner glazing consistency, stir in a little more
water after beating.) When not using, keep tightly covered to prevent it
from drying out; keep refrigerated. Makes 2 cups.