The aroma of freshly baked gingerbread cookies means the holiday season is here! Icing and sparkling sugar add festive flair. Royal Icing dries rapidly. Work quickly, keeping extra icing covered tightly at all times.
Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy.
Stir together 1/4 cup water and soda until dissolved; stir in molasses.
Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with molasses mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Shape mixture into a ball; cover and chill 1 hour.
Roll to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a 7 1/2-inch snowflake cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cut out designs in snowflakes using 1/4- to 1/2-inch cutters, and remove.
Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Spoon icing into a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag; pipe around edges of cookies. Sprinkle icing with sugar, if desired.
Note: Sparkling sugar can be found at cake decorating and kitchen shops.
Royal Icing dries rapidly. Work quickly, keeping extra icing covered tightly at all times.