I love baking around the holidays! There is just something about the smells that come from baking that my brain associates with Christmas. I may not be a great chef, but by gosh darn, I can bake!
Making Christmas cookies that my son can help with are an added bonus when it comes to baking. He likes selecting the cookie cutters and decorating the finished sweets. One of our favorite cookies to make are gingerbread men. I have a recipe that is pretty simple that I make year after year.
One of the secrets to making soft gingerbread cookie men is rolling the dough “tick tick” between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick. The other is not to overbake them. Overbaking will cause them to become too crisp.
You can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate up to four days. Just remember to let the dough return to room temperature before you attempt to cut out your shapes!
• 3/4 cup butter
• 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, firmly packed)
• 1/2 cup molasses
• 1 large egg
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole-wheat flour)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and molasses until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Remove from heat.
2. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Beat in the egg.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula (not an electric mixer) until you can’t see any flour anymore. The dry ingredients should be well incorporated but do not overmix or the gingerbread cookies will be tough.
5. Divide the gingerbread cookie dough in half. Form each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to four days.
6. When ready to bake, remove one disk of gingerbread cookie dough at a time from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
7. Heat the oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place a little flour on the parchment paper.
8. Unwrap the room temperature dough, placing the plastic wrap on top of the dough as a buffer to keep the rolling pin from sticking to the dough.
9. Roll the gingerbread cookie dough to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Cut into desired shapes. Arrange the gingerbread cookies on the baking sheets, so that they are 1 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining disk of dough.
10. Bake the gingerbread cookies from 4 to 7 minutes or until just firm to the touch. The cooking time will depend on how thick you rolled the cookies and of course, your oven. Watch carefully!
11. Remove the cookies from the oven, leaving them on the hot sheet for around 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
12. Decorate with royal icing, colored sugars, sprinkles, or candy canes. Store for up to one week in a covered container.
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