One such recipe is for gingerbread men. These cookies are thick and chewy, opposed to the sturdy gingerbread used to build houses or the crunchy ginger buttons I posted about not too long ago. Gingerbread men definitely are a must for me every Christmas. Just the smell of them baking in the oven, all the spices: the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, automatically makes me think of the holidays.
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookiesadapted from Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe
3 cups flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks butter,slightly softened
3/4 cup molasses
2 T milk
Combine your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Then mix in the brown sugar. In another bowl, mix together the molasses and milk till evenly combined. Cut up your butter into tablespoon pieces and sprinkle them over your flour mixture. With a pastry blender or knives or even with your fingers, work the butter into the dough until it resembles a fine meal. Then add a third of your molasses/milk mix to the bowl and combine. Repeat two more times until all the molasses/milk is incorporated into the flour.
By now, you should have a soft, even dough. Gather it into a ball and divide it in two. Place one half of the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll it to a 1/4 inch thickness. Repeat with the other dough half. Stack the two plastic wrap sandwiched dough sheets on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
Once the dough is firm, remove it from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Take one sheet of dough, flip it over and peel off the bottom piece of plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap back on and flip it all back. Now peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap and begin cutting out your cookies with your cookie cutters, placing the cookies onto the parchment-lined trays as you cut. Bake the cookies for 8-11 minutes, depending on how large your cookies are (8 minutes for 3-inch shapes and up to 11 minutes for 5-inch shapes).
They should be set when taken out of the oven, but not hard. Let them cool on their trays for a few minutes, then let them finish cooling on a wire rack. When the cookies are totally cool, you are free to decorate them however you want. I like to melt candy melts or chocolate to glue circular sprinkles on as buttons. But feel free to let your imagination soar. White chocolate outlines. Covered with green and red sprinkles. Iced with a shiny frosting. There are plenty of possibilities.