Gingerbread Men

     The last time I made gingerbread cookies was about twenty years ago when I was just a little kid. For a while I have been thinking about going back to my mom’s old recipe, but I can recall the cookies puffing up a lot and losing their special shapes. Online searches had me even more confused while reviewers argued over what cookie was too crisp, too soft, too spicy, not spicy enough, etc. 
     My December Food Network magazine had a large pull-out poster on the cover with a recipe for “Perfect Gingerbread Men.” I decided to try it out and followed all of its particular directions exactly. What resulted was a cookie leaning more towards the soft side that did not spread out and lose its shape. It has just the right amount of spices, not too overwhelming but still enough to experience the variety of holiday seasonings.
This makes a moist dough;
It is necessary to refrigerate for at least two hours to firm up.

The dough flattened to 1/2″ thick and wrapped in plastic

Rolling out the dough;
I have two quick tricks for rolling out dough evenly:
1. Put the dough between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper before rolling.
This prevents sticking.
2. Use a rolling pin with round discs on the side to even out the dough.
This makes all of the cookies the same thickness.
(I use a “Joseph Joseph” rolling pin.
You can buy them on Amazon or online food shops for around $20).

I like to press the cutter shapes as close to each other as possible
This prevents overworking the dough by rolling it out too many times.

After being baked;
You can see how the cookies maintained their shape well.

If you are using cinnamon imperials,
press them into the cookies  as soon as they come out of the oven.
(If you bake them with the cookies they may melt).

The final decorated product:
Happy Gingerbread Men!

Gingerbread Men

3&1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 Tablespoon shortening, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
cinnamon imperials, if desired

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, leavening, salt, and spices. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, melted shortening, brown sugar, and molasses. Beat in egg with a hand mixer.
3. Beat in the flour in two additions. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic, and pat to 1/2″ thick. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
4. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut into shapes and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges. Add cinnamon imperials, if desired. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Gingerbread Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1+ tablespoons water

1. In a small bowl combine sugar, corn syrup, and extract. Add enough water to make a thick paste.
2. Pour frosting into a piping bag and pipe out designs on cookies. Let harden about one hour and store cookies between layers of waxed paper.

Merry Christmas!
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