Decorating gingerbread men is one of my favorite childhood memories. I spent 3 days last week baking these little guys for our English school Christmas party. For many of our students, it was the first time to decorate and eat a gingerbread cookie. This is the recipe I used both this year and last, and it makes a delicious cookie that’s a tad bit spicy. It originally came from a Martha Stewart Living Holiday Cookie issue from a few years ago, but I don’t make the gigantic snowflakes she suggests. The recipe makes a dense population of gingerbread men (or women); about 90.
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks or 240 grams) butter (for more delicious cookies, use salted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. finely ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup unsulfured molasses
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter and brown sugar together with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses.
- Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Divide dough into thirds, flatten slightly, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or up to a few days.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to desired thickness (a 1/4 inch or less. I like pretty thin gingerbread men. You can eat more that way). Cut into shapes with cookie cutter and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 12-13 minutes until crisp, but not dark.
- When cool, decorate!
Here are a few of my students meticulously decorating:
This girl appeared to favor quantity over quality:
“I spy with my little eye…a kitten trying to steal a gingerbread man.”
This is the royal icing we made for our students to decorate their cookies. Feel free to add food coloring if you’re feeling extra festive.
4 grade A egg whites (or use pasteurized egg whites)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Beat egg whites in large bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy.
- Gradually add sugar and vanilla extract.
- Beat at high speed until thickened.
- Spoon into small Ziplock bags and refrigerate until ready to use. Cut the tip off one of the corners of the bag and use to decorate your cookies.