With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Classic Gingerbread Men

My mom's mom, who I lived with until I was seven years old, was quite the cook.  I've mentioned her on here before but it seems inevitable that she pops up occasionally from time to time.

Back way before the food network was around or food blogging and the internet was even thought of, she was tuning in to public broadcasting to catch the one cooking show they had a week and cranking out her recipes on a bulky typewriter with her own added notes.

Basically a food blogger before the term even existed, not only do I think she'd be the one most excited about my adventures in the kitchen and with this blog if she were here, I think she'd be right there with me on both accounts... flour up to her elbows and typing away, the works.

Although she was more of a cook than a baker, come Christmastime I vaguely remember her plunging head first into sweets.  Although I have no particular memory of gingerbread cookies being made, I'm sure plenty were... as evidenced by the fact that stashed in the back of my pantry are some killer vintage cookie cutters.

And I knew come Christmas this classic dessert was exactly what I wanted to make.

This dough ends up being a little on the sticky side but if you lightly flour it as you roll it, you'll have no problems.  I rolled mine out on a pastry mat just to make my life even easier, but if you don't own one don't sweat it, any floured surface will do.

Just be sure to brush any excess flour away before you put these in the oven, to avoid wonky looking gingerbread men.  However, in my book there's really nothing wrong with some wonky cookies.  They taste just as good.

Truth... my silipat baking liner is one of my most trusted and well loved baking tools.  If you bake cookies more than once a year, I highly suggest investing in one or two.  They're not expensive and they take the frustration out of cookie making.  They are literally a god-send.

The original recipe called for royal icing to decorate the cookies, and while royal icing is straightforward enough and delicious, quite simply a whole batch for some buttons... wasn't going to happen.

Instead I used sugar pearls that you can find at any local craft store (and maybe even some grocery stores) and it looked just as cute with a fraction of the work.  As you can see a few of them sunk in a tad, but no big deal when the cookies came out of the oven I just placed a new one in where the hole had been left.

This recipe yields an obscene amount of cookies.  I'm talking 5-6 dozen.  For all other desserts I normally cut the recipe in half, but with cookies I never ever do.  For some reason my tiny family has no problems finishing off whatever amount of cookies I put before them.

This made more than enough cookies to eat and even then still some to give away, which made it perfect for our holiday season.

I really love these cookies, and I think you will too.  You can change it up and use whatever cookie cutters you want to go beyond Christmas, just be sure to adjust your baking time if you use a radically different sized one.

Whether you like your cookies on the softer or crisper side, just adjust the baking time slightly.  For my 3-inch cutter 9 minutes per tray yielded chewy and pillowy irresistible cookies for a soft cookie lover like me, but if you'd like yours more crisp increase a few more minutes.

Give these cookies a try, they reminded me of Christmases past and some loved ones and were the perfect ending to a wonderful holiday.


Classic Gingerbread Men

Servings: 5-6 Dozen

- 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups dark molasses
- Sugar pearls for decorating (optional)

Note: start cookies at least 1 hr before you want to bake
Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, beating until fluffy and well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed (about 3-4 minutes).  Add eggs and molasses and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all is combined.  Add dry ingredients slowly, with the mixer on low speed, and stir until just combined.  Separate dough into three portions and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hr (or up to a few days).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  When ready flour a work surface and dough lightly and roll dough to approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Cut dough with desired 3-inch cookie cutter of choice.  Transfer to baking sheets lined with baking mats or parchment paper.  Place sugar pearls or sprinkles in as buttons if desired. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.  If sugar pearl have sunk in, immediately push in a new one where hole was left.  Continue until all dough has been used up.  Let cool completely and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies


  1. Can they be frozen?

    1. These can be frozen before baking. Just place in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes after cutting into shapes to flash freeze, and then store in air tight bags until ready to bake. When baking, take out of bags and place on baking sheets to thaw at least 15-20 minutes before baking. After baking I'm not sure how they would do frozen, but potentially in an airtight container they might be ok. They stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for a good amount of time. Hope this helps! Come back any time. :)

  2. Can this be frozen long term?

    1. Please see above comment. Thanks so much for stopping by and come back anytime. :)

  3. I made this recipe and it turned out like PERFECTLY. I posted a link to your recipe on my blog because I loved it so much: http://apartment402.tumblr.com/post/37920428719/fab-four-a-few-of-my-favorite-things

    1. That's so awesome! I checked out your tumblr. So much fun! Stop back any time :)

  4. What's a good recipe for a royal icing?

    1. Here is a great one. Hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by.