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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gingerbread Men

"Run, run, run, as fast as you can... you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"  Oh!  That was one of my favorite childhood stories!  Suspense, tender moments....  :)     Somehow though, Gingerbread Men seem to signify a traditional Christmas cookie to me and Christmas time is the only time I make them.  They're not hard to make, and even easier to eat.  LOL

This recipe will make approximately 3 dozen 2-3 inch little men.  A heavy duty mixer is easiest to mix it in as the dough is a little stiffer than sugar cookie dough.  If you don't have a heavy duty mixer, mix it using what you  have, adding the flour a little at a time until you can hear your mixer start to bog down.  Knead the rest of the flour in by hand.   The dough is great for gingerbread houses as well.  Just line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil, roll the dough out on that and cut out your house pieces.  Remove the scrap dough from around the pieces and then bake!  

Gingerbread Men (or Houses)

1 C. shortening, melted
1 C. sugar
3/4 C. corn syrup
1/4 C. molasses
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
5 1/2 to 5 3/4 C flour

Pour sugar, corn syrup and melted shortening in mixer bowl.  Let cool slightly.  Blend well.  Add eggs, mixing until smooth.  Add all spices and blend.  Add flour 1 C. at a time.  The dough should start to look crumbly but still stick together when rolled into a ball.  Dough should be quite stiff.

Spray counter (or rolling surface) with cooking spray.  Roll dough to 1/3 inch thick.  (thicker cookies stay softer after baking, thinner cookies will be crisp - adjust your dough thickness to the type of cookie you want)  Cut out cookies and transfer to cookie sheet with a spatula. (a nice, thin, metal spatula works best)  Leave about 1 inch between cookies.  IF you'd like, right now you can use raisins for eyes, craisins or red hot candies for buttons - just press those in slightly where you'd like them.  Bake at 375 for about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to cooling rack.

When you're done baking and your little gingerbread men are all cooled, make a medium consistency icing with about 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1-2 T. of lemon juice or water.  Outline or decorate your little men as desired. Let icing dry a few hours before stacking in airtight container.  These will store well quite a while.

Joy's Notes:   I use a cake decorating bag and about a size 4 writing tip for this but you could put your icing in a sandwich baggie and snip a tiny hole in one corner to decorate.  I really like my gingerbread men crisp...they dip in milk really well. Mmmmm!    IF you want to use them to make ornaments, use a toothpick to make a hole at the top of the head BEFORE baking so you can thread a string through.

Have fun with these!  I think they're as much fun as sugar cookies!

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