Men Friends? I’m being politically correct; you can’t just call them gingerbread men when some of them are obviously…not men. Right? So these little boys and girls are my buddies, especially since some of them are bearing gifts of chocolate and booze – and who doesn’t love a friend who brings you presents like that?
The cookies are really easy to make, unless you are trying to make them hold their arms out straight. I could describe all of my failed attempts, but I’ll just cut to the chase. Two methods worked for me: propping their little arms up with foil as they baked, or amputating their arms right from the get-go, and then gluing them back on with royal icing as they were decorated.
Alternatively, you can cut cute little shapes out of dough (gifts, stars, drums, candy canes) and wrap the gingerbread friend’s arms around it before baking. Kids would get really creative with this!
Or…make them the traditional way, of course.
Here’s the recipe I used. For my second batch I used half shortening, which made the dough more stable. You can use all butter if you prefer, but it might spread a tiny bit.
|Gingerbread Friends|| |
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup shortening
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ROYAL ICING:
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder (found with cake decorating supplies)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla (I use clear vanilla for the whitest possible icing.)
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- FOR DECORATING: melted chocolate, sprinkles, colored sugar, gold dust.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar.
- Add egg and molasses and beat well. The batter should lighten in color.
- Add baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Mix well.
- Stir in the flour, beating well. Make sure all of the flour is well incorporated.
- Place dough in an airtight container and refrigerate at least 4 hours (overnight is better).
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Roll dough approximately ¼-inch thick between sheets of parchment.
- Cut out shapes and place on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on how soft or crunchy you want them.
- Slide parchment onto a cooling rack and cool cookies completely before decorating.
- To make royal icing, combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. If you have a stand mixer, I recommend you use it, with the whisk attachment.
- Add the vanilla. Slowly add the water, beating continuously. Beat on medium high for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary to achieve the right thickness for piping.
- Place in a pastry bag with a small writing tip and pipe directly onto the cookies. A small amount can be thinned if you want to brush it on with a paintbrush. (Pink cheeks, clothing, etc.)
Do you give out plates of cookies and candy at Christmas? If so, why don’t you customize a gingerbread cookie with the recipient’s name for that personal touch? Personalized cookies would also be the perfect place card at a holiday meal!
I hope you’ll use your imagination and find some other fun ways of decorating your cookies. Just…lock them up well at night so they don’t wander. (I was going to insert a picture here from “Gingerdead Man”, but it was just too creepy. And I don’t want the copyright police breathing down my back.)