This is the latest I’ve posted in awhile. I always underestimate how long it will take me to decorate cookies. Oh well, I can’t help being a perfectionist.
Anyways, after a brief hiatus last week, the Christmas Cookie Project is back with a vengeance. Tomorrow there’s a holiday at work, to which I committed cookies. And then there are all of the various people I need to give cookie tins to. And then of course there are my students, who have requested treats as well. In short, I will be baking every day this week. And maybe posting some of it, but more likely posting a mega-cookie-montage next week.
This week, we are starting with the classic: Gingerbread Men. Technically, the recipe is for Peppar Kakor (the o is supposed to have those dot things, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it), or Swedish Molasses Ginger Cookies. But I just use it for gingerbread men.
To start, cream together the egg, crisco, vinegar, sugar and molasses. I almost used up one of my two open molasses jars on this and remembered not to buy more, which was exciting.
With all the molasses, the crisco makes a nice little island in the middle. But when it’s mixed up, it looks like this:
In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, baking soda and the spices.
Add the flour to the molasses mixture and mix well. I did so in a couple additions because I didn’t want to overwork my yellow mixer.
Add flour until the dough is the right consistency for rolling. In other words, you don’t want it to stick to your hands. I also throw it in the fridge for a bit to chill because I think it makes it easier to handle. Ironically, while my cookie dough was chilling, I got in a workout, which seems kind of strange to do in the middle of baking cookies, but when I was done the dough was ready to be rolled.
Take out a piece of it, put it on a well floured mat, flour the rolling pin, and roll it really thin. Like really really thin. Otherwise your gingerbread men will be obese and very not man-shaped.
If you want to see how obsessive I am about cookie cutting maximization, check out my elephant cookies, but I figured I didn’t need to subject you to that again.
Side story: in preparation for these cookies I had to find a gingerbread man cookie cutter. I used it as an excuse to go to Williams-Sonoma, and was directed to the back of the store. The first one I saw was one of their nice copper ones, and it was $8. I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on a single cookie cutter and was about to abandon to go check at CVS, when I went to the other side of the rack and found the $2 version. So I bought 4.
Anyways, transfer the cookies to a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until the edges are golden. There is very little time between golden and burnt to a crisp, so keep an eye on them. I also made houses for my gingerbread men. It seemed fitting. But they demonstrate golden brown better.
Allow to cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet to crisp up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to frost.
Now, this time around I had meringue powder, so I used a different royal icing recipe than the sugar cookies. To make the icing, mix the confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and 5-6 tablespoons (depending on the consistency you want) of water until it looks like frosting. Pro tip: if you mix with your mixer as if it’s a spoon first, you won’t have a sugar-covered kitchen.
Scoop the icing into a pastry bag with a #3 tip and keep the remaining covered while not using. It hardens really fast. Ice the cookies as you wish. I just googled “Decorated Gingerbread Men” to see what other people did. And I had M&Ms on hand so I used those for buttons.
At first I accidentally put the M&M “m” side up, but then I was able to rationalize that it was advertisement for SMiLes by Meg and decided they all had to be “m” side up. Geminis are really good at coming up with these sorts of justifications, I’ve been told.
I also wasn’t totally sure the best way to go about decorating the house, but this is what I came up with:
Anyways, I had a lot of cookies, so I set aside 10 houses and 10 men for my cookie tins. The rest are finding there way to work tomorrow for our party. So if you’ll be there, get excited.
Gingerbread cookies store really well for awhile, as long as you keep them in airtight containers. Also, the icing hardens fast enough that they are fine to stack.
For the cookies:
- 1 egg
- 1 cup crisco
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3-5 cups flour
For the icing:
- 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 5-6 tablespoons water
- Cream together egg, crisco, vinegar, sugar, and molasses.
- Whisk together baking soda, spices, and 3 cups flour in separate bowl.
- Add to molasses mixture and mix well.
- Keep adding flour until dough is the right consistency for rolling and cutting cookies. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll dough thin and cut cookies.
- Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until edges turn brown. Leave on cookie sheet for 2 minutes to crisp before removing to wire rack.
- Mix confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and water for icing in a large bowl. Transfer to pastry bag and decorate.