Classic Holiday Gingerbread Men are soft and chewy on the inside. They have just the right amount of crunch on the outside! They are the perfect homemade gift for the special people on your holiday gift list.
This post is part of a virtual recipe exchange organized by Olivia at The Girl Can Bake.
When I was a little kid, there was a bakery several blocks from my house. I used to love to go that bakery and look at the gingerbread men, all lined up and ready to be eaten.
Little did I know then that I’d be making my own version of these Classic Holiday Gingerbread Men! They are soft and chewy on the inside with just the right amount of crunch on the outside. Packaged in clear treat bags, they make wonderful Christmas gifts for kids of all ages.
The dough for the gingerbread men is pretty sticky, and somewhat difficult to work with. I’ve learned through the years however, that the easiest way to handle the dough is to (1) ensure that it’s cold when it’s being rolled out; (2) use parchment paper sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar as opposed to flour to roll out the dough; (3) place another piece of parchment paper on top; and (4) use rolling pin spacer bands to achieve the proper thickness of the dough.
I’ve tried decorating the gingerbread men in a lot of different ways. My favorite way, pictured here is to keep it simple. I pipe uncolored royal icing with a #4 plain tip for the face and zig-zagged around the arms and legs. I use mini-chocolate chips set in royal icing for the eyes, and red and green mini-M&M’s set in royal icing for buttons down the front.
Once the royal icing is perfectly set, I package the gingerbread men separately in clear food grade polypropylene bags, and use my food saver to seal the bags – not vacuum seal, but rather just seal.
These Classic Holiday Gingerbread Men are fun to decorate and are sure to bring a smile to even the grumpiest grinch on your gift list. They make perfect Christmas gifts either by themselves, or included in a goodie basket with other Christmas treats. Yum!
If you’re looking for some more great cookies for the holidays, check out my 12 Days of Festive Christmas Cookies.
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Classic Holiday Gingerbread Men
- 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
- ½ cup (3.75 ounces) light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ⅔ cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 large egg
- Royal Icing recipe follows
- Mini chocolate chips and mini-red and green M&Ms or other decorations
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter and vegetable shortening until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.) Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper, or other work surface dusted with confectioners' sugar. Sprinkle the top of the dough with confectioners' sugar and cover with another piece of parchment paper or Saran wrap. Roll out the dough ⅛-inch thick, being sure that the dough isn't sticking to the work surface (run a long meal spatula or knife under the dough occasionally just to be sure, and dust the surface with more confectioners' sugar, if needed). For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer to parchment lined cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart. Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.
- Bake at 350° F until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes; then traransfer to wire cake racks to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing, and other decorations. (The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.) Yield: 16 to 20 gingerbread men.
- Royal Icing
- 2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoons dried egg-white powder or meringue powder
- 3 Tablespoons water
- Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add more water or confectioners' sugar to achieve the proper piping consistency.
- Make ahead: The icing can prepared up to 2 days ahead, stored in an airtight container with a moist paper towel pressed directly on the icing surface, and refrigerated.
- This icing hardens into shiny white lines, and is used for piping decorations on gingerbread men or other cookies. When using a pastry bag, practice your decorating skills before you ice the cookies. Just do a few trial runs to get the feel of the icing and the bag, piping the icing onto aluminum foil or wax paper. If you work quickly, you can use a metal spatula to scrape the test icing back into the batch. Decorate the gingerbread men.