Who doesn’t love to get a little gingerbread man as part of their massive intake of sugary gifts around the holidays? They’re usually decorated pretty cute, and really are the icon of Christmas cookies.
*the largest gingerbread man made measures 20 feet tall and 1,308 pounds
*it has it’s own fairy tale, The Gingerbread Man (‘Run, run, as fast as you can; you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man’)
*in the famous Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, there’s a whole army of the little guys that help defeat the evil Mouse King. Go Team GB!
*Candy Land anyone? The Gingerbread People rule that game
*Gingy! The crazy, lovable Gingerbread Man from the Shrek movies
Notice nowhere did I mention how they’re known for blowing your tastebuds’ minds.
Friends, I have changed that, right here, right now. Not only can you make the softest, most flavorful Gingersnap cookies, but you can turn that same recipe into the most delicious Gingerbread Men with a couple extra steps.
First, you must use real ginger. I cheat and use fresh ginger from a tube. Have you ever used an actual ginger root? It’s really quite tedious, as you must peel the skin, then grate the actual pulp, but then you run into the middle core after a few grates so you have to flip it and grate the other side; most of it just stays on the grater so you have to pick it off….just say no. Get the tube.
Molasses is the other key to great cookies. There is mild, dark, and blackstrap molasses. I recently started buying dark, just to get more a robust flavor. Apparently blackstrap has all sorts of vitamins and minerals and oodles of health benefits, but I haven’t found that yet. Dark (or full) is a happy medium.
Frost those babies with melted white chocolate chips, shortening, and almond extract.
Have you ever had candied ginger? That stuff has some kick! It’s certainly not candy for the faint of heart. I can’t really eat it plain, but atop a sweet cookie, it’s absolutely perfect. You can usually find candied ginger wherever you find your bulk nuts, oats, and whole-foods candy.
Next, the men of your Christmas lives…
soft on the inside, slightly crispy on the edges, a little spicy, and uber playful.
Take the remaining half of your dough and mix in 1/2 c flour.
Cut out your men. And women. And babies with curly Q’s as hair.
I like my men a little crispy on the edges. If you’re like me, you’re gonna wanna bake these for 11-12 minutes. If you’d like them softer, more like bread, keep it at 10 minutes.
In the meantime, make your royal icing. This icing recipe is not mine, I found it here.
Royal icing is actually very simple, and it looks so elegant! I love it! It’s easy to work with, and the video on piping techniques really helped. Letting the icing fall onto the cookie with you leading it aids in getting those smooth, straight lines.
Decorating Your Gingerbread Men
Decorating is usually my favorite part, except when it’s midnight and I just worked an insanely stressful 13-hour shift after only sleeping a couple hours the previous night, spent a couple hours at the doctor’s on the way home to get some antibiotics because my throat wanted to be on my outsides, then burst into tears because the pharmacy wouldn’t fill said antibiotics, I’m exhausted, and I didn’t even get to see my kid that day. It’s amazing what a hot shower will do for your desires to pipe some frosting and throw down some red-hots.
Go ahead, break a leg.
- 2 c sugar
- 1 1/2 c oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c full, unsulphured molasses
- 4 c flour
- 4 t baking soda
- 2 T fresh ginger
- 4 t cinnamon
- 1 t salt
- 1 t nutmeg
- 1 t cloves
- sugar to roll dough in
- 1 pkg. white chocolate chips
- 1/8 c shortening
- 1/2 t almond extract
- candied ginger, diced
- additional 1/2 c flour
- 3 T warm water
- 1 1/4 T meringue powder
- 1/4 t cream of tartar
- 8 oz. powdered sugar
- food coloring and red hots for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Mix flour, soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in bowl, set aside.
- In mixer combine sugar and oil, then add eggs, molasses, and fresh ginger.
- Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture, combine well.
- Remove half of the dough from the bowl; this will be your gingersnap dough, while the remaining dough will be transformed into your gingerbread men later.
- Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar in a small bowl.
- Bake 10 minutes, cool completely on cooling rack.
- Melt chocolate chips and shortening in microwave in glass bowl for 1 minute. Stir until completely melted. Add in almond extract.
- Once cookies are cool, dip half of the cookie into the chocolate.
- Dice pieces of candied ginger and sprinkle on chocolate. Let harden, then store cookies covered.
- For the gingerbread men, add 1/2 c flour to the remaining dough.
- Use cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread men, place on parchment paper on baking sheet. Chill cutouts on baking sheets prior to baking while oven is preheating. Preheat oven to 350, bake 11 minutes.
- Make royal icing by whisking water with meringue powder for 30 seconds.
- Whisk in cream of tartar for 30 seconds.
- Add powdered sugar, beat with paddle mixer 10 minutes on lowest speed.
- Pipe icing onto cooled gingerbread men, let harden until set (a couple hours).