Gingerbread Men


Fun, silly, and festive gingerbread people say Christmas is here!

By Kathy Oberman

 

The sweet, spicy aroma of gingerbread wafting through the house is a sure sign of Christmas. For children young and old, making and decorating gingerbread men and women always is a memorable seasonal activity.

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Gather the basic ingredients for the cookies: flour, baking powder, baking soda, molasses, ground ginger, sugar, brown sugar, unsalted butter, and eggs.

Make sure you have decorating supplies, too: silver dragees in different sizes, red and green sprinkles, red cinnamon candies, cinnamon chips, raisins, food coloring, and a batch of royal icing or tubes of storebought icing.

You may also want to have a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip for piping icing and an offset spatula or butter knife to spread the icing.

Make the Cookies
Remember to allow at least an hour for the dough to rest in the refrigerator before it is rolled. When ready, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out the gingerbread people with cookie cutters. Gather the leftover dough and roll it again.

It's fun to use different size cutters for the gingerbread people. This way, you can make whole families. Use a large spatula to transfer them to the baking sheet for baking and use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour from the cookies. Once baked, let them cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

Decorate the Gingerbread Men
A wild imagination is a very good thing here!

Use the icing to pipe a border outlining the entire cookie. Use the same tip to make eyes, nose, a big smile, and buttons down the center. If you have more than one pastry bag, alternate the colors used to make buttons, eyes, and other details.

Spread icing over the entire cookie for clothing or paint on a vest, apron, jacket, or trousers with suspenders. Once again, use the pastry bag for details.

For more fun use dragees, cinnamon candy, cinnamon chips, or raisins for eyes, noses and buttons. Anchor these on the cookie with small dabs of piped icing.

Allow the cookies to sit for several hours to allow the frosting to harden in place before stacking or packing them up.

Decorations
These cookies are perfect for tree, table, or window decorations. If you plan to hang them from a tree or wreath, make a small hole in the unbaked cookies with a toothpick or skewer. Be sure to make the hole large enough for a ribbon.

Give your gingerbread man a bowtie or happy necklace with silver twine or thin ribbon. Attach a tiny bell or star to it to make it more festive.

String up the decorations with ribbons, yarn, or colored pipe cleaners. Attach them to packages or other holiday offerings. Hang them from the mantle or stuff them into stockings.

Whatever you do, don't forget to leave a plate of gingerbread people for Santa Claus!