Perfect Gingerbread Men! #fbcookieswap

Merry Christmas Dear Reader!

As per our annual tradition, this year’s GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP post is due….. today! The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. This year we are again excited to be partnering with COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease.

For several years, I have been making gingerbread cookie recipe after gingerbread cookie recipe looking for the PERFECT gingerbread cookie recipe and I’m proud to say that I finally found one that has been consistent, tastes just like Christmas and holds its own when it comes to cut-outs because Gingerbread Men are the quintessential Christmas cookie and it is one that just makes me happy inside and out!

The recipe actually comes from another food blog called Sweetapolita. If you haven’t visited Rosie’s blog before it is fantastically whimsical and it will inspire anyone, regardless of their baking talent, to get in the kitchen and bake! I mean just check out her Galaxy Cake…. wow! 

Baking is such a special activity. Not only does it conjure up  so many memories but it is something that my girls love and insist on helping me with and nothing is more fun than getting our hands on some cookie dough, measuring flour and sugar  and eagerly awaiting the final results and the first, warm bite! Baking is something that can be shared with so many people and sharing is so much fun, especially at Christmas time.

My girls have never made any men-shaped cookies before so this was incredibly fun for them – plus my youngest received a large, house-shaped cookie cutter from Santa and we were able to make and decorate Gingerbread Houses and Gingerbread Men! I whole-heartedly recommend making flat houses, it’s just as fun and perfect if you don’t want to make an entire house.

This Gingerbread Cookie is just fantastic. If you don’t like an overly sweet cookie, refrain from frosting it. It still tastes of Christmas and has the hints of all of your favorite Christmas spices and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. It is soft and chewy on the inside, retains its shape perfectly when baking and has a little caramel crunch on the edges. There could simply be no more perfect a recipe than this one when it comes to Gingerbread Men.

When we made our sets to send out to our cookie matches, we used a royal icing to decorate them and while it allowed us to create a modern, whimsical Gingerbread Man, I felt that just plain vanilla frosting – straight out of a can, brought out the most intensely Christmas flavor for this cookie and that is what made this cookie simply amazing! It may not have that classic Gingerbread Man look, covered in frosting with as many sprinkles and decorations jammed into it as possible but the flavor was to-die-for!

We have been making oodles and gads of Gingerbread Men for all of our friends this year and I’m pretty sure Santa is going to wind up with a Gingerbread Man or two to enjoy as well! The girls wrote their letters to Santa over Thanksgiving weekend and are waiting on pins and needles to make our final batch of cookies to share with our friends (and Santa) while they *hopefully* get some sleep before hopefully awaking to their very first bicycles!

THE PERFECT GINGERBREAD MEN Recipe
adopted from Sweetapolita                                                                                    Yields 3-4 dozen 2-inch Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6.5 Cups (815 g) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 TBS plus 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 TBS Ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1-1/4 Cups (283 g) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 Cup (220 g) Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup (220 g) Molasses (**the robust, fancy molasses will give a more subtle flavor**)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

First, in a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping sides of the bowl between additions. Add the molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Dough should be soft (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add a few tablespoons of four until the desired consistency is achieved.

Divide the dough into two, placing each half on a large piece of parchment paper. Press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about two inches thick. Use a rolling pin to achieve a consistent thickness about the same size of your baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the dough and place the rolled out dough on top of the other rolled out dough, cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.

Remove one disc and place it on top of a large, lightly floured work surface. Begin cutting out gingerbread men and transferring them carefully to a parchment lined baking sheet, placing them about 1.5-2 inches apart. Store, uncovered in the fridge while you are waiting to bake them.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F and once the oven has come to temperature, transfer a readied baking sheet from the fridge to the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to brown. Be careful not to over-bake them or they will be dry.

Collect the remaining dough and re-roll once, repeating cutting and baking steps. Dough rolled out more than twice will be a little tough, so its best to keep it to a 2-3 time roll-out maximum.

Cool the baking sheets on wire racks for about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the wire racks to finish cooling.

Decorate as you like with royal icing, vanilla frosting or enjoy them plain!

Happy Baking!

Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s cookie recipes. Salivate. Get lots of great ideas for your next baking adventure – or possibly a new cookie to share with Santa! (**Link coming soon!**)

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