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How to Make Great Gingerbread Men
A gingerbread man is a human-shaped biscuit made from gingerbread. It is usually male, but some are decorated to represent females, too. Most of them share the same shape, with stubby hands and feet and no fingers or toes. Facial features can either be represented by candies or chocolates stuck onto the face, or by indentations made in the gingerbread. Shirt buttons are the most commonly used decoration, and are usually made from Smarties, raisins, gum drops or icing. Other features added to gingerbread men include hair, shoes and shirt cuffs.
As far as it is possible to tell, the first gingerbread men were made in the court of Elizabeth VI of England. She is said to have had the gingerbread men decorated to resemble some of her more important guests, who were then presented with the cookies.
Bake Gingerbread Men
These gingerbread men are great fun to prepare, decorate and bake. They are perfect for any occasion, and are always popular at bake sales, pot lucks, and children's birthday parties. Slip them into gift baskets, too, as a special festive treat.
Gingerbread Men Cookie Cutters
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- Place the sugar and margarine together in a large mixing bowl and cream them together until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the molasses and egg yolk into the blend.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, then blend it into the margarine mixture until the new concoction is smooth and free of lumps.
- Cover the gingerbread mixture with a towel and place it in the refrigerator, where it should be left to chill for a period of at least one hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly dust a flat working surface with flour.
- After an hour has passed, roll the dough out on the floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out gingerbread men shapes using the cookie cutters of your choice.
- Gather the remaining dough up into a ball and roll it to 1/4 inch thickness again, cutting more gingerbread men shapes from it. Repeat this until all of the dough has been used.
- Place the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets leaving a space of 2 inches between each one, then bake them in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer the biscuits from the sheets to wire cooling racks, and frost/decorate them once they're completely cool.
Notes & Tips
-In step 7, you'll know the gingerbread men are done when they take on a firm texture.
-Store them at room temperature in an air-tight container.
-To decorate your gingerbread men, experiment with frosting, sugar, chocolate spread, sugar strands, and a selection of candies and chocolates.
-For best results, avoid using black strap molasses.
-If you don't particularly enjoy the taste of molasses, replace the 1/2 cup molasses with 1/4 cup molasses and 1/4 cup golden syrup.
-There is no problem if you want to replace the margarine with butter.
-Feel free to adjust the amount of spices to suit your preference. For example, you can double the cinnamon and half the cloves if that's what you'd like.
-If you like your gingerbread to be extra chewy, add another egg yolk to the mixture detailed in step 1.