Soft Gingersnaps & Gingerbread Men
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.
Useless trivia of the day:
*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.
Bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes.
One of the best things I did was go out and buy an oven thermometer. You hang the thermometer from one of your racks, and it tells you how hot your oven actually is. Turns out mine is 25 degrees too hot.
Take the cookies out and let them rest on the pan about ten minutes, then move to cooling racks.
Let cool completely.
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.
Dice the candied ginger, sprinkle on the chocolate, then dust with cinnamon.
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. Roll the dough out onto parchment paper, cover with plastic, and chill for at least an hour.
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.
Again, with the cooling completely.
I’m sorry, I know patience is not your virtue.
Nor is it mine.
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.
You see that little lady front and center? She’s my favorite.
I bedazzled her necklace just because.
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.
And you see this little guy on the left with the green heart? Yeah, he’s my favorite girl’s boyfriend. He gave her that bedazzled necklace and that’s why he has the green heart, because he hearts her just so.
And the guy next to him that’s screaming red-hots? He’s a little cray-cray, but I like him like that.
Doesn’t he look like he’d be a goofy little guy?
Don’t worry, I got to see my real-life little guy the next day.
And we bit off a head or two of my other little guys, which definitely got the toddler stamp of approval.
- 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
- generous 1/3 c warm water
- 2 1/2 T meringue powder
- 1/2 t cream of tartar
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- plus 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 on very low heat in heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Add in almond extract.
- Once cookies are cool, spoon small amount chocolate onto half of the cookie and spread to cover half.
- Dice pieces of candied ginger and sprinkle on chocolate, then dust with cinnamon.
- For the Gingerbread Men, add 1/2 c flour to the remaining dough.
- Roll dough out into 1/4" thick disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Use cookie cutter to cut gingerbread men out, bake 10-11 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.
- If desired, add in any (clear) flavoring or food coloring.
- Pipe icing onto completing cooled Gingerbread Men, let harden until set (a couple hours).