Friday, December 3, 2010

Gingerbread Men

I wish you could smell this picture. There's nothing like the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. We started making these at Christmas a few years ago. We enjoy decorating them as a family and then give them away to friends and neighbors. This is our first batch this year and we made 25 or so gingerbread men and then 5 or 6 stars for us to eat. This year I used Royal Icing, which allows you to do all kinds of fun and fancy decorations and sets fast and quick. But really we do very basic things with our gingerbread men so next time I think I will stick with the old shortening icing recipe. I posted both below.

The funny thing about decorating cookies as a family is how everyone's personality shines. Here are my cookies: cute, colorful, a little skimpy on the frosting maybe, but all neatly identical for gifting.

And here are Rich's cookies: such an engineer. I like how he worked the NC State basketball player into the mix. When I pointed out that we were giving these away to other people he said I was stifling his creativity. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And then we have Lincoln's cookies: generous on the candy. Such a giver. Mommy piped the frosting on his, because the tip I used was too small and you had to really squeeze hard to get it out. The ones he decorated all by himself he got to eat. He was very happy with this arrangement. I know, I'm such a control freak.

The next day, when the cookies were hard, I bagged them up with these cute bags I found at Michael's. The kids and I are going to deliver them this afternoon in our little red wagon to the neighbors. I love where we live but we don't see much of our neighbors. Must be lots of fellow introverts. I guess that's why we all chose to move to a neighborhood with acre lots. So this is a good excuse to say hi.

Gingerbread Men
6 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 sticks butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp ginger
4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

1.) Sift together flour, soda, baking powder. Set aside.
2.) Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices, salt, eggs and molasses. Add in flour mixture.
3.) Divide dough in half and form into disks. Wrap in saran wrap and chill in fridge at least 2 hours.
4.) Lightly flour counter and rolling pin. Line baking sheets with parchment.
5.) Preheat oven to 350'.
6.) Roll out first disk of dough, keeping the other in the fridge, to 1/4" thickness. Use large gingerbread men cookie cutters to cut out cookies and transfer to baking sheets.
7.) Bake for 8-10 mins. Let cool and decorate as desired.

Royal Icing
1 lb. confectioners sugar
5 Tbs meringue powder
1/2 cup frosting
Gel paste food coloring
(*Gel paste and meringue powder available at Wal-mart or AC Moore or other craft store.)
Combine all ingredients except gel paste and beat for 8-10 minutes until still peaks form. Add gel paste to change colors as desired. To thin, add water 1 Tb at a time. To make the frosting more stiff add powdered sugar. Freeze any extra frosting for later use.

Shortening Icing
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 Tb milk
1 tsp vanilla
Blend all ingredients. Color as desired. Freeze any extra frosting for later use.


  1. I am going to attempt to make these with the kids this weekend. Or I make the batter Friday for us to decorate on Sunday. Where do I buy unsulfured molasses?
    My neighborhood is full of introverts too. I have lived here for 5 years and know like 2 families!

  2. Hi girl: Have fun! You can get unsulfured molasses in the store in the pancake syrup area usually. A lot of people like it on pancakes. I have used both sulfured and unsulfured. You do get a better taste from the unsulfured. It's stronger and sweeter. Lowe's Foods has Grandma's unsulfured molasses on sale for $2.99.

  3. Lora J Klein Looks like fun! Jessica wants to try making little gingerbread houses this year. We'll see...

  4. Maridith Kenna FittsDecember 9, 2010 at 3:49 AM

    Lawson just asked me if we were going to make gingerbread mean this year. this makes me think I might be able to this myself...maybe! Great tradition.

  5. You can definitely do them yourself. I usually make the dough one day, roll them out and bake them the next and then either freeze them until I'm ready to frost them or frost them on the third day. They defrost really well and so does the frosting. I actually put the recipe up too, which I totally forgot to do the first time around. Wes and Lawson would love doing these.

  6. Ummm......I can almotst smell them..... ;-)

  7. Jane Saunders GillespieDecember 9, 2010 at 3:51 AM

    We do this too Christa. I used to make them with my friends family when I was young and then got her recipe and make them with my kids. This will be the 12th year of making them. It is one of our most favorite Christmas activities and memories.

  8. Saw your gingerbread men! Jay and I were just talking about your g-bread men at breakfast, and how good they are! Wish I was there to taste them, too. =)

  9. P.S. on the molasses: If you can only find sulfured molasses or if the bottle just says molasses, it's fine either way. Unsulfured is best but it won't change the texture etc of the cookie that much.


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