Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gingerbread Men

It's just that time of year - time for apple cider, gingerbread, planning for thanksgiving, and wearing thick sweaters. Okay, I know I live in Texas so the thick sweaters aren't happening so much, but at all the rest is true.  And, in the spirit of fall and cool crisp weather, I decided it was time for gingerbread! This recipe comes from The Joy of Baking, and I was very happy with it. 

Gingerbread Men: 

3 cups (420 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsulphured molasses

Confectioner's Sugar: 
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons milk or light cream
Assorted food colors - if you want your gingerbread men to be colorful.

For the Ginger Bread:

Start by mixing together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, then set aside. 

Next, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until incorporated. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Preheat the oven 350 with rack in the middle of the oven - Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or use a nonstick cookie sheet) 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the cookies.  With an offset spatula lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch apart. 

Bake for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Small ones will take about 8 minutes, larger cookies will take about 12 minutes. And if you make really tiny ones like I did, then they take 4 to 5 minutes depending on how soft you like your cookies. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown.  
Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minute. When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Confectioners Frosting: 

In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugarScrape down the sides of the bowl and beater. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).  Add a little more milk if too dry. Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and decorate the gingerbread men as desired, or just spread the icing on with a tiny spatula.

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