Nothing says Christmas time to me like the taste and smell of gingerbread! When I was a little girl, my grandma (Tutu) would make gingerbread cake with lemon sauce, and it was my favorite. I have never been able to get her cake quite right, but I have come to love making gingerbread cookies instead. Since my son really loves gingerbread too, and really really loves the story of The Gingerbread Man, this will be our 2nd year making gingerbread people cookies for Christmas (we actually make these other times in the year too) 🙂
We like to start by telling or reading the story of The Gingerbread Man. Then we wash up and get the step-stool ready in the kitchen. My son (3) likes to scoop the sugar and flour into the measuring cups. He (and his sister) also love to lick the beaters from the mixer when we’re all done mixing 🙂 Here’s my recipe (You can use any shape cutter you like. In years passed I used a pretty snow flake cutter):
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 tablespoon vinegar
2.5 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
Mix butter with an electric mixer for about a minute. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to bowl and mix until combined. Then add egg, molasses, and vinegar. Begin adding flour slowly, mixing until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate a couple of hours or over-night.
Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutter of your choice (I used a 3 inch person-shaped cutter). Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-12 minutes (less if your cookies are smaller than mine). Edges will be starting to darken. Let cool before decorating. Makes about 12.
I like to glaze my gingerbread with lemon glaze. It reminds me of my Tutu’s lemon sauce. To make lemon glaze simply mix about a cup of powdered sugar with a table-spoon or two of lemon juice. Stir it up and add more powdered sugar or lemon juice to get the consistency you like. Then spread or drizzle it on each cookie. I let my son do this step. I also set out raisins and almond slices for him to decorate with. The toppings stick pretty well with the glaze.
As you can imagine the entire process is infused with chants of “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” which makes the experience that much more fun 🙂 . Happy baking to you and yours this holiday season!