Need to Know
Use mild molasses, not blackstrap.
Molasses is the thick liquid that’s left after sugar has been extracted from sugar cane juice. Blackstrap molasses is very dark, sticky, and somewhat bitter, and can overpower other flavors. Mild molasses is golden-brown and sweeter but still has a kick that pairs nicely with spices like ginger and cinnamon.
Consider the age of your spices.
Ground spices last about a year; after that, they’re less flavorful. Restock your cabinet if you think your spices might be old, and use freshly grated whole spices, like nutmeg, whenever possible.
Freeze the dough and roll it in batches.
Freezing the dough makes it firm and less sticky. To keep it that way, work with one-quarter of the dough at a time and leave the rest in the freezer. Try to roll the dough no thicker than 1/8 inch, or the cookies will be more chewy than crunchy.
Re-roll but don’t overwork the scraps.
You can gather and re-roll the dough scraps once. After that, press any remaining scraps into a new portion of dough; this will prevent them from being overworked, tough, and dried out. Add cream of tartar to the royal icing. Although decorative royal icing is usually made with just egg whites and confectioners’ sugar, adding cream of tartar stabilizes the icing and makes it thicker and easier to handle