Oh yes, it is that time of year. I really cannot think of a December in which I haven't baked at least one batch of gingerbread cookies. It is a tradition that has become some sort of a ritual to me, one that I perform in the cold nights all by myself which ends with me sitting at a table in the late hours with a bowl of icing, little bottles of food coloring, and a small paintbrush. It is therapeutic, I tell you.
I also just love the taste of gingerbread. I like mine somewhat thick and quite spicy with a thin layer of plain sugary icing. This recipe makes just that, what I would classify as the perfect Christmastime cookie. Truthfully, I almost felt bad hungrily devouring their sweet little faces. My three-year old, however, happily had them blasted by action figures before maliciously gobbling them up.
Gingerbread Men Cookies: recipe from Joy of Baking
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
Note: To prevent the molasses from sticking to the measuring cup, first spray the cup with a non stick vegetable spray (like Pam).
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture beating until incorporated. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the cookies. With a spatula lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch apart.
Bake for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Small ones will take about 8 minutes, larger cookies will take about 12 minutes. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minutes. When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 2-4 teaspoons milk, 2 teaspoons of light corn syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract in a small bowl and mix well. Adjust amounts of milk or corn syrup to reach desired glossy consistency.