I love to experiment and try new adventures in the kitchen, yet, when Christmas comes around, I come back to the recipes near and dear to my heart. One such recipe is gingerbread men. I spent a few years trying other people’s recipes and found a recipe on the Brown Eyed Baker and America’s Test Kitchen I fell in love with. I changed a few of the spices, but it’s quite similar to theirs.
These gingerbread men and women have a nice chew, they’re sweet while at the same time, they deliver a spicy kick. These cookies are a fabulous compliment to some of the other delicious, but really-really-really sweet desserts on the dessert table. There’s a variety of spices in this recipe (they are all pretty normal though: ginger, pepper, cinnamon). You mix the dry ingredients FIRST, then you add the sugars and fat. No need to get lots of bowls dirty with this recipe: it’s a one-bowl cookie recipe. Woohoo!
Plus, these guys ship really nicely. They’re easy to store, easy to travel with, and freeze beautifully. That makes for a winner in my recipe book.
The downside of cut out cookies, such as gingerbread people and sugar cookies- is that they are a bit more time consuming than the average drop cookie recipe. I typically make them in two batches. I make the dough and let it chill. It needs to chill for at least two hours anyways. Later (typically the next day) I come back and do the baking and decorating.
I call them gingerbread people because I make them both girls and boys when I decorate with icing. It’s fun to give them a bit of personality with curly hair, a fun apron, or even a jailbird costume.
Below are some tips for making and storing the cookies. Enjoy! This recipe first appeared in my first novel, A Christmas Cookbook Crisis.
Tip for a Quicker Clean Up– Use wax, parchment paper or foil underneath the cookies when you frost and decorate them. Then, the bits of crumbs, frosting or sprinkles can be dusted off in the sink or the garbage can. The paper can be used for the next round of cookie baking. (unless there were a group of four year olds helping you. Then, just wrap and dump everything into the garbage can!)
Baking Note: When you take the cookie batter out of the fridge, it’s pretty cold. The edges may crack when you roll out the first half. I dab my finger in water and tap the edges together. This is only a problem with the first roll out. By the second time I’m rolling out the dough, my hands have warmed it up just enough to be nice and smooth.
2nd Baking Note: Cinnamon circle candies bake nicely in the cookies. I found other candies (like the round circle disc-sprinkles in the multi-sprinkle containers) melt in the oven. Once I discovered this, I dabbed dots of icing onto where I wanted the eyes or belt, then added on the sprinkles.
My favorite Easy Icing:
I pour about a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl and add approximately a teaspoon of milk (you can use water as an alternative). I mix it up with a spoon. The goal is to create a thick, smooth icing.
I snip one corner of a plastic sandwich bag and scoop in the thick icing. I use this as my DIY frugal pastry/icing bag. If the icing comes out to fast or in too big of a squirt, the openings needs to be smaller. Use another bag (you can squeeze the icing from the first into the second without too much of a mess!).
Okay, your turn! Do you have a favorite traditional cookie you make every year? I’d love to hear!