Gingerbread Person Cookies

Gingerbread Person Cookies

Ginger Bread Cookies.

One of the first cookies that I remember my great aunt would bake was gingerbread men. Every Christmas she would make a full array of seasonal holiday cookie treats. I like the taste of ginger and it is most satisfying to the taste bud. When I was baking Xmas cookies in mass amounts for a restaurant bakery. The traditional Christmas baking was all done with hands on passion following original family recipes. Each batch of dough was hand crafted and the cookies that came from the dough batch were all slightly different with no two cookies looking the same. I learned to bake in the old colonial style watching my dad a hotel chef and his senior bakers follow retro recipes from the first confectioner’s recipe book. I have an 1815 Confectioners Hand Book copy for my references pertaining to making cookies, candies and fruit fillings. Back then there was no flour and the base for most cookies was crushed almond flour made by hand crushing whole almonds into granules and then drying and further processing into flour like substance. Just imagine having to make one pound all by hand. All the fruit fillings and flavourings were gathered from the gardens and the orchard. More back breaking labour. Icing sugar would have to be rasped from a sugar cone and from my experience having once or twice done this found that getting a pound of icing sugar took several hours of muscle building armstrong power. I still use those old techniques when I bake. Here is a cookie recipe that I used when I taught some kids on a live TV show called The Romper Room and how to make Gingerbread Man Cookies. I still fondly remember this wee 6 year old girl asking me real seriously if there were any Gingerbread Girls because she wanted her cookie to be wearing a pretty dress. I told her to make her cookie in whatever way she wished to make it and moments later as I looked over to the other kids who were now making cowboys, animals and other interesting shapes with the gingerbread dough that made Miss Fran and The Do Bee laugh out loud. May I suggest that you give this recipe a try and involve the children because kids can say and do the most impressive things!

Ingredients needed are:

3 1/2 cups cake flour [Makes at lighter textured cookie but all-purpose flour will pass.]

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tbs melted shortening or unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark molasses

1 tbs fresh ground ginger

2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp fresh ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground allspice

2/3 cup demerara brown sugar

1 cold large egg

6 tbs melted unsalted butter

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl mix together butter, shortening, brown sugar, molasses, and the egg.

Sift flour to wet mixtures in two sections and fully incorporate

Divide dough in half and chill for a couple hours

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick sheet.

Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter or freehand with a knife, cut out men and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill for 15 minutes. [By doing this step it sets up the cookie butter giving the cookie a stronger structure through the baking process

Bake the cookies until golden brown on edges (about 10-12 minutes)

Transfer to a rack to cool then let the family decorate the ginger person with an icing sugar and lemon juice paste mixture that can be dyed using cranberry juice for red and pressed mint leaf juice for green.

Hang them from the tree or serve them to Santa and enjoy that festive gingerbread treat.