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The Ultimate Holiday Cookie: Gingerbread Men

December 16, 2011

I would be lying if I said my first time making gingerbread men from scratch was all fun and games.

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Because it was about 50% sticky dough, clumpy icing, frustration and cursing.

But in the end, I forgot about all that and giggled in delight at the sight and taste of what Joey and I had created. And if we’re being perfectly honest, and I’m always honest, these taste damn good. It’s 4 days later and the leftovers still taste like they were just made.

They’re everything a gingerbread man should be. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, slightly soft and absolutely adorable.

Pats self on back.

If you’re in the market for a gingerbread recipe, might I suggest this one? My one criticism would be that the dough was kinda sticky. Even after chilling it for a few hours, it stuck to our heavily floured table like crazy. I may or may not have tried using a pie serving utensil to pry them off the table and instead just used it to destroy them. Die gingers, die!

But after a few deep breaths, I tried again and found that the trick was A) more flour and B) rolling smaller chunks of dough, cutting out the men and pulling them off the table right away. It was quite the lesson in speed work.

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The baking part was a breeze. In the oven for 13 minutes and out looking perfectly baked. For the record, these don’t really spread, so feel free to put them somewhat close together. We ended up with one conjoined twin, but didn’t have any other problems.

The royal icing was the part I was most nervous about.

I found a recipe via Alton Brown. I figured if I was going to trust someone with my gingerbread dreams, Alton was that person, plus the recipe had something like 90 raving reviews. I’m sold. After spending the better half of last Thursday night reading about how to pasteurize your own eggs, I figured I’d go the simple route and by pre-pasteurized egg whites. And then there was that small part about beating this and that on this and that speed and since I’m mixer-less, I turned to Joey and asked “how fast can you move your arm?” Against all royal icing odds, we ended up with something that actually looked right (we ended up adding more eggs whites and a bit of water) and the only speed bump left was the fact that we didn’t have pastry bags, but that’s nothing a large ziplock bag, some tape and a pair of scissors can’t fix.

Yeah, we got scrappy during this bake sesh.

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Guys, this icing was so easy to pipe on. I’m no cookie decorator, so if I could make this work, this icing must have been really amazing. I’m pretty sure I was down to 3 seconds per cookie at the end there and my sous-baker who was rotating the cookies, almost couldn’t keep up. Whether it’s because I was going so fast or because he was trying to watch the Cowboys game is up for debate.

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Just look at all those little guys.

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Please ignore those two with faces and that one with a “A” on it’s forehead. Piping faces wasn’t a good idea.

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But if you do attempt to pipe faces, it will be especially funny when a cookie falls on the floor and it just happens to be one of the 3 that had faces.

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You can practically see the pain in his face.

In conclusion, the 3 things I learned from baking gingerbread men are:

  1. Roll your dough out on parchment paper, so it won’t stick to your table.
  2. You don’t need a mixer, pastry bag or any prior cookie decorating experience to make these.
  3. Anyone can make gingerbread men!

Oh and #4 would be that bringing gingerbread men into work will spawn a giant discussion about what kind of candy is best to decorate the cookies with. I say gum balls are too big — red hots all the way!

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Have you ever made or decorated gingerbread men?

What candy do you think would be best to decorate gingerbread men with?

Gingerbread men or gingerbread houses?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2011 9:10 AM

    Wow, that is extremely impressive that you made royal icing without a mixer! I do the ziploc piping bag all the time–it’s way easier and you just throw it away when you’re done! These gingerbread men are too cute.

  2. December 16, 2011 9:52 AM

    these are fantastic and bring a smile to my face! thanks for sharing!!

  3. December 16, 2011 10:13 AM

    Gingerbread men! They are easier to eat..nom nom. I’m so jealous that you were able to whip these up. You’re my hero!

  4. December 16, 2011 12:09 PM

    I love gingerbread! And I’m going to go with the men as a favorite, but only because I’ve tried making houses from scratch before and that is just TOO MUCH work, holy cow. Cute cookies! I love mine plain, but some red hots used as buttons are a good gingerbread compliment too…

  5. December 17, 2011 6:38 AM

    Yummy! Gingerbread are my fave holiday cookie 🙂

  6. December 24, 2011 2:19 PM

    I LOVE DECORATING COOKIES! Gingerbread men are a lot of fun since you get to dress them all up!

    I love your blog! 🙂

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