“Not my gumdrop buttons!” Whenever I think of gingerbread men of course that line from Gingy (on Shrek) always comes to mind. Gingerbread cookies are such a Christmas classic and it’s about time I finally got around to sharing a recipe! I’ve always loved gingerbread cookies but I’m not so much of a fan of the cracker-like ones so I made these to be a slightly softer cookie (just be sure not to over-bake them). If you do prefer a crispier cookie just roll the dough a bit thinner than listed and even bake a little longer if needed.
These cookies were so fun to decorate, every holiday season you need to decorate at least one batch of cookies right? My kids got my first test batch to decorate and I gave them tons of sprinkles to decorate and they were in Heaven! It’s always one of my favorite crafty things to do with my kids – I mean duh, a craft that you can eat? It’s a no brainer. If you’d prefer not to make royal icing you could also use a buttercream icing or you could even use a store-bought icing (but keep in mind you won’t be able to stack them). This icing really is easy to make though, the key is just in getting the right consistency so be careful no to add too much or too little water and let it whip up for a fair amount of time until it has a nice sheen to it. Keep in mind it does make a lot of icing so you you are only doing the gingerbread men you would probably only need 1/2 to 2/3 of the recipe listed because they don’t need as much icing as the snowflakes or Christmas trees. Another fun idea is to turn the gingerbread men upside down and they become shapes for reindeer.
I made these cookies to be a little more mild on the molasses flavor so they’ll still be kid friendly (you can even cut back the ginger to 2 tsp for a slightly less spiced version for kids). These are so good and they are indeed a cookie that both young and old alike will love. I loved that the dough was easy to work with and doesn’t need a long time to chill. And of course I also love the scent in the kitchen when I was making them – real gingerbread scent is dreamy.
I hope these make it to your holiday cookie tray! The are such a delicious tradition and we all need a good, reliable Gingy recipe!
For the reindeer version simply cut dough into circles using a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter then bake as direction. Then melt white chocolate and dark chocolate in small bowls separately (or chocolate chips or almond bark candy coating) then pour into piping bags fitted with tiny round tips (#1 – #3 will work) then pipe the white circles first as well as a tiny one for the nose (to stick the candy on) then pipe the darker portion of the eye (before the white sets) with the dark chocolate, and pipe the antlers with the dark chocolate as well. Then stick on either a red Sixlet or a mini red M&M for the nose. You shouldn’t need much chocolate, I used 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and had some left. Also I like to add 1 1/2 tsp shortening in with the chocolate for a better consistency. I used the candy coating for the white. You can rewarm the bags of chocolate under hot water as needed to soften the chocolate as you are decorating. I posted a quick how-to video on Instagram here. The reindeer were inspired by Moje Wypieki.
Yield: About 2 dozen cookies
- 3 cups (425g) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (165g) packed dark brown sugar
- 10 Tbsp (142g) butter, softened about halfway (it should still hold it's shape pretty well and be cool)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (172g) molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 - 2 Tbsp milk
- 3 (420g) cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp (15g) meringue powder
- 4 - 6 Tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
For the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together sugar and butter until well combined, occasionally stopping and scraping down bowl. Mix egg yolk and vanilla. Mix in molasses and 1 Tbsp milk. With mixer set on low speed slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, while adding additional milk as needed just to bring dough together. Divide dough into two equal portions then roll each portion out evenly to 1/4-inch thickness (into more of a oblong or rectangular shape so it will fit on a cookie sheet) between two sheets of parchment paper. Chill on a cookie sheet in freezer 10 minutes or until firm then cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Remove from paper using a thin metal spatula or pastry scraper if needed then transfer to a cookie sheet, spacing cookies about 1-inch apart, and bake in preheated oven 8 minutes or until slightly set (they should leave a slight indentation when touched). Repeat process with remaining cookies. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool pipe icing over cookies to decorate and add sprinkles if desired. Let icing set at room temperature and store in an airtight container (note that these cookies are even better and softer the second day).
For the icing:
Add powdered sugar and meringue powder to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Fit mixer with paddle attachment, add in 4 Tbsp water and the vanilla them mix on low speed until combined. Add more water to thin as needed and increase speed and whip mixture until it is glossy and thickens up. Tint with food coloring if desired. Transfer to piping bags fitted with tiny round tips.
Recipe source: Cooking Classy