Gingerbread Men

Every year, for Christmas, I make these delicious Gingerbread Men. Since Ben and I met, we have spent every Christmas together with his family. I often struggled to think of gifts for each individual member of his family, and instead of turning up empty handed, I decided that a handy gift to have is homemade Gingerbread Men.

I make these Gingerbread Men as gifts for our family, friends and neighbors. I always have a little chuckle to myself about my Gingerbread Men, as they are not your ordinary run of the mill gingerbread men. They are disabled amputee Gingerbread Men. They have tragic pasts, sad demeanors, and blood and guts spilling out of them.

I made 3 batches of the Gingerbread Men recipe (making about 150 biscuits), and 2 batches of the royal icing, in 4 different colours. I also bought some red cello wrap and festive ribbon to package up my delicious Gingerbread Men, they look so attractive and Christmas-y!!

It took me about 2 days to get it all together. Saturday was spent making the 3 batches of dough, rolling, cutting and then baking and cooling the biscuits. Sunday was spent icing the biscuits in various states of despair and then packaging them up ready for distribution. And all without a husband!

Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

Serves: makes about 50 x 3-inch cookies

Prep-time: 1 hour

Resting time: at least 3 hours in the fridge or overnight

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

145g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

2/3 cup (200g) unsulphured molasses

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (spoon and levelled)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground ginger (yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

Royal Icing:

1 and 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted

1 eggwhite

1/2 tsp lemon juice

food colouring of your choice

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that’s ok.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and place each onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Please see photo and description above in my post. Chill discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. I always chill mine overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
    Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Don’t be afraid to continually flour the work surface as needed- this dough can be sticky. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.
  4. Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches, bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches, bake for about 11 minutes. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time.
  5. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.
  6. Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked and decorated (or not decorated) cookies freeze well – up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough discs (just the dough prepared through step 2) freeze well – up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 3.
  7. Royal icing: Lightly whisk eggwhite and lemon juice together in a bowl. Gradually add icing sugar, whisking until smooth and combined. I divided my batter into 4 separate bowls, and added red, green, yellow and blue food colouring to each bowl. Mix well and pop into piping bags (with nozzle and couplet).

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