Decorating gingerbread cookies is a Christmas tradition I’ve always enjoyed, so this year I decided to spice things up by making large gingerbread people who represent my real-life friends and family, and to give each individual their own respective cookie as a Christmas gift.
To frost my cookies, I used store bought cookie icing in various colors, and chose one feature from each person – usually hair or clothing style – as inspiration. For instance, my father always wears coveralls and a t-shirt, so I frosted my dad’s cookie with blue icing for the coveralls, and white icing for the t-shirt. It takes a little practice to work with the icing, but you can always use a toothpick to go back and fix your mistakes.
And just for fun, I decided to make a few more traditional looking gingerbread cookies as well. I like to decorate mine in all-white, with candied pearl sprinkles as buttons, but you can use any color of icing or button material you’d like. For instance, miniature-sized M&M’s or cinnamon candies would be perfect.
• 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
• ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 (1/2 cup) stick butter, room temperature
• ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• ¾ cup unsulfured molasses
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the egg and molasses until well incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Press mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in the refrigerator until cold and firm – at least an hour (and up to two days).
Once you’re ready to make your cookies, preheat your oven to 350◦F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap from plastic, and cut in half. Repack one half of the dough back in the plastic, and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Place the other half on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out to ¼” inch thickness, and use a large 5-inch gingerbread cut-out to make your shapes. Place cut-outs on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet, spacing them at least an inch apart from one another.
Once your cookie sheet is full, place it in a preheated oven on the center rack for 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from cookie sheet onto a cooling rack until room temperature, and store in an airtight container until ready to ice.
After frosting my cookies, I let them sit for an hour so the frosting could set up nice and firm. To package my frosted gingerbread people, I used large cellophane bags, with labels and gift tags in the Christmas style, Snowflake.
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