Saturday, January 11, 2014

gingerbread men!

I know, I know.
It's after Christmas.
But, we have a felt song/story every week in homeschooling and since the month of December was filled with the Nativity story, I thought we'd do The Gingerbread Man for the first week in January.
And, of course, you can't possibly do this story without actually making real gingerbread men.
So, as good of a time as any, let me share my favorite gingerbread cutout recipe!

Gingerbread Men
Makes about 2 dozen, depending on your cookie cutter size
Adapted from Food Network3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
1 large egg
Decor of your choice, cinnamon buttons, jelly beans, chocolate chips, etc
Icing, for "gluing" the decor on

Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350*.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter and vegetable shortening until well-combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)
To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick, being sure that the dough isn't sticking to the work surface. For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart. Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until dry on top.  Remove and cool completely.  Decorate as you wish.

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