Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gingerbread Men

This and hot cocoa: a Christmas staple. I'm not normally a fan of ginger cookies, but something about gingerbread men makes all the difference. I'm afraid I was (am!) the morbid little girl who would eat first one leg, then another, working my way up until only the head was left. Stars and trees (not shown) I'd just eat haphazardly.

I liked this recipe (from much more than normal because the cookies came out soft, not hard as cardboard like standard ginger cookies. The eyes are chopped crystalized ginger; otherwise I just used frosting for decoration. My frenzed (12 hour) baking day is over, yet not: I finished the goodies (these + hot cross buns) for tomorrow, but I still have truffles and Christmas candy to finish for the gift packages. Good thing I like cooking!

* 3 cups (420 grams) all purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
* 1 large egg
* 2/3 cup (160 ml) unsulphured molasses

Confectioners Frosting:
* 2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
* 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 tablespoons milk or light cream
* Assorted food colors (if desired)

Gingerbread Men: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture beating until incorporated.

Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the cookies. With an offset spatula lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart. If you are hanging the cookies or using as gift tags, make a hole at the top of the cookies with a straw or end of a wooden skewer.

Bake for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Small ones will take about 8 minutes, larger cookies will take about 12 minutes. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minutes. When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, you can press raisins, currants, or candies into the dough for eyes and buttons while the cookies are still warm. Otherwise, confectioners frosting can be used to decorate the cookies. You can also use the icing as a glue to attach candies, raisins, and sprinkles.

Confectioners Frosting: In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beater. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk if too dry. Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and decorate the gingerbread men as desired.

Tint portions of frosting with desired food color (I use the paste food coloring that is available at cake decorating stores and party stores).

Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter used.

Store in an airtight container.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Death to Gingerbread men!
I will gobble them all up and wash them down with a glass of ice cold milk!

You remember that scene in Shrek?