Gingerbread Men Cookies

These are so much fun to make and decorate, and the smell and taste of the spices is wonderful, especially during the holidays. The recipe doesn’t take much skill, either — just some patience while the dough chills so the cookies can better hold their shape. And after the cookies are baked comes the next fun part — decorating! My favorite royal icing recipe is below.

I made these for Christmas this year and gave some as presents. Of course, these can be made in any shape you like — try huge snowflakes, circles as Christmas ornaments, or triangles for Christmas trees (if you don’t have a tree cookie cutter). I had leftover dough, so I improvised the shape of a house with a paring knife.

Yield: A whole lot of cookies (depends on the size of your cookie cutters!)

6 cups sifted all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup molasses (unsulfured)
Royal icing (see recipe below)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture and combine on low speed.

Divide dough into thirds and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

After the dough has chilled, on a floured surface, roll out one of the dough portions until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and transfer to ungreased cookie sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Bake the cookies until crisp but not darkened, 8-10 minutes. Transfer them to a baking rack to cool and repeat the process with the rest of the dough. When cookies are cool, decorate as desired.

I used flat sprinkles for the buttons. Mini M&Ms would be nice, too.


ROYAL ICING

2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. light corn syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp. hot water, more if needed
Piping bag with narrow tip, or plastic bag

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with electric hand mixer on medium speed until well blended.

The icing should not be watery, so be careful when the water and only add a DROP or two until it’s the right consistency (a drop of water goes a long way when making icing). You want it to be stiff enough to go through a piping bag. Use a narrow tip on the piping bag or snip off a very small corner of a plastic bag. Scoop the icing inside the bag and enjoy the decorating!

(Icing recipe from a 1998 Christmas cookie recipe booklet from Williams-Sonoma.)

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