There is a certain nostalgic feeling I get from gingerbread men. You know what I mean. THE cookie that says “Christmas”. I think cut out cookies are essential for holiday cookie giveaways or for parties and family gatherings. They are like the Christmas decorations of the cookie world and make everyone smile. Beside their quintessential festive look the taste of gingerbread is divine! The dark molasses combined with cloves, nutmeg and ginger….ah….I can smell them baking now.
I learned a few tricks over the years for making and decorating gingerbread men. One is royal icing is perfect for decorating so you the frosting stays put. You can tint it different colors if you like or place candies on top of it and use it like “glue”. Also, I like to roll my chilled dough right on a parchment lined cookie sheet; cut the cookies out and remove the excess dough. This process makes the moving of the dough men minimal so that they hold their shape well. I find that if I am handling the dough men a lot I end up with crooked heads or waving arms. Ha! Kind of cute maybe for family as they will look more “homemade” but not so cute for cookbook photography.
Food Styling by me, Jennifer Janz for the WE Energies 2014 Cookie Book. Photography by Grace Natoli Sheldon
Photo courtesy of WE Energies
¼ cup boiling water
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup dark molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pour water over butter and stir to combine. Add sugar and molasses; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices; beat into butter mixture. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-1/2-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about 4 dozen.
Note: I love Grandma’s dark molasses. I have been known to even stir a spoonful into my coffee!