Thursday, December 22, 2011

Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Men

Decked with friendly smiles and swirls of snowy royal icing, gingerbread men are an iconic symbol of the holiday season. The deep molasses flavor of gingerbread is warm and festive in itself, but the spiced aroma of a freshly baked batch, and the familiar sugary designs on the doll-like cookie cutouts are what truly make it feel like Christmas.

Though it always looks so appealing, the problem with gingerbread is that it is often break-your-teeth-status, hard as rocks. I don’t know about you, but when I’m presented with a delicious little man cookie that smells like cinnamon and sugar, I’m tempted to bite the head off of it. And when I can’t? What a tease! A lot of recipes are designed to make the cookies sturdy enough to be used as tree ornaments and decorations, which is perfect if that is what you want to do. However, if eating the cookies is what you’re after, soft & chewy is the way to go.

In search of a cookie that fit the right criteria, I came across this blog featuring the recipe for Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies by Baking/Cook’s Illustrated. With the description of “the perfect man,” I could not resist. As I am often very careful when it comes to baking, I followed the recipe exactly, and the cookies turned out awesome! Just look at them. They’re adorable and best of all, soft and chewy; the texture makes it so easy to savor all the deliciousness that gingerbread has to offer.

I decorated my gingerbread men simply and traditionally with standard royal icing made of confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and egg whites. Because of the stigma attached to eating raw egg and getting salmonella, most royal icing recipes these days will call for meringue powder or egg white powder instead—both pricier alternatives that require a trip to a craft or specialty store. I’ve seen so many recipes like this, that I actually questioned myself for wanting to use real egg whites. Listen, people have been making royal icing with egg whites for years. The chance of getting salmonella from pasteurized eggs is already incredibly low; factor in the ratio of sugar to egg whites, and your risk is even lower.

You won’t be able to hang these soft gingerbread cookies on your tree, but they are too good to be used as decorations anyway. For many, the gingerbread man is the personification of sweet holiday memories. Baking them is a fun project to share with the ones you love, and they make thoughtful gifts as well. They are just the kind of cookies that are sure to put a smile on Santa’s face!

A gingerbread man once said, that you can take anything from him, just “not the buttons; not my gumdrop buttons!” The inspiration to all of my gingerbread aspirations, Gingy! :

Here is the recipe. It is not mine, just one that I recommend. :-)

Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
Recipe edited. Obtained from; Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies, Baking Illustrated
Yield: About 20 Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Royal icing for decorating
• In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With food processor running, add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass, about 10 seconds. (This step can also be done in an electric stand mixer; mix the dry ingredients, cut the dough into the flour mixture by hand, and then mix in the wet ingredients).
• Divide dough in half and roll into ¼ inch thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. Place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
• Once the dough is firm, cut out cookies using a gingerbread man cookie cutter. Place on prepared baking sheets spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Bake until centers are just set and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking until all dough is used.
• Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 2 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Decorate as desired with royal icing.



This looks like a fantastic recipe! Happy Holidays!

Elizabeth said...

These look delicious!

Karen said...

Chewy gingerbread is the best! These do sound perfect!
Hope your holidays were wonderful and happy new year!

Anonymous said...