Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gingerbread Men

My friend and neighbor Kati Cox hosts a cookie exchange every Christmas. She makes the best gingerbread men that stay soft and moist. Yum!


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses (Grandma's brand)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground ginger (yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Easy royal icing or your favorite icing recipe (Kati used white chocolate to decorate hers)

1.   In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that's ok.

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough into thirds and place each third onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Please see photo and description above in my post. Chill discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. I always chill mine overnight.

3.  Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

4.  Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Don't be afraid to continually flour the work surface as needed- this dough can be sticky. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining discs of dough.

5.  Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches, bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches, bake for about 11 minutes. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time.

6.  Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.


7.  Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked and decorated (or not decorated) cookies freeze well - up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough discs (just the dough prepared through step 2) freeze well - up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 3.

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