Make the cookie dough: Add the butter to a large bowl and use an electric whisk or stand mixer to whisk the butter for 2 minutes. It will become light and airy. Add the soft brown sugar, molasses, orange zest, and vanilla extract and whisk again until combined.
Sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough consistency. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and roll the dough into a ball and cover wrap in cling film or place in an airtight container. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour (or make ahead and chill overnight). Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F).
Roll out the cookies: Lightly flour your countertop and roll out the dough to approximately ¼ inch in height. Cut out cookies using a 6.5 x 5.3cm cookie cutter and place them on baking trays lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake: Bake for 10 minutes (soft) or up to 14 minutes (crunchy). Allow the cookies to sit on the baking tray to cool for about 5 minutes. Next, carefully slide the sheet of parchment paper with the cookies off of the tray and onto a cooling rack. Cool for another 15-20 minutes until they reach room temperature.
To make the royal icing: Add the aquafaba to a large bowl and whip with a handheld whisk or stand mixer for 2 minutes until foamy. Add the icing sugar in quarter increments whilst continuing to whisk. Lastly, add the orange juice and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is thick.
Transfer the icing to a piping bag. Snip the very tip of the bag with scissors and start by piping an outline on your cookies. You can get creative with drawing faces and designs on the cookies. If you wish to coat the cookies completely in royal icing you can flood the cookies by continuing to pipe inside the outlines. You can also melt some vegan chocolate and pipe more faces/designs if desired.
Place the iced cookies back on a cooling rack to allow the icing to dry completely for a minimum of 1-2 hours before storing them in an airtight container at room temperature.
Storage: These cookies will be slightly firm/crunchy once freshly baked and will soften after the first day. They will last in a sealed container for around 2 weeks.
Vegan butter: Take this out of the fridge to sit at room temperature for 30 mins to 1 hour. Use vegan block butter NOT spreadable butter from a tub. I use flora plant butter or Violife Block.
For soft and chewy gingerbread cookies, bake for 10 minutes. For firm gingerbread cookies, bake for 12 minutes. For crunchy gingerbread cookies, bake for 14 minutes.
For the green icing pictured, simply mix in half a teaspoon of matcha powder for every 3 tablespoons of royal icing.