I’m not sure how the tradition of making cookies at Christmas time came about, but I’m not complaining about it. Cookies happen to be my favorite desserts to make, and probably my favorite dessert to eat. Something I’ve never really been fond of, though, is gingerbread.
In the form of a rock solid house covered in sticky icing, perfect. Decorating and cutting them out, awesome. When it comes to eating it… not a fan. They are a little too hard, a little too spiced, and overall are the least consumed cookie on our table every year. I’m not sure why, but I’ve constantly loved ginger snap cookies and hated gingerbread, and they seem like they should be a similar. This year, instead of making gingerbread men, I decided to try ginger snaps, and it was totally successful!
This recipe is adapted from the Joy of Cooking ginger snap recipe, which has great flavor, including a little lemon zest! Instead of baking the dough in little balls, I chilled it, rolled it out (with LOTS of flour) and baked them for about 17 minutes for some snappy little cookies. They don’t spread out much at all, making them great for cutting shapes and decoration. I also made a half batch of my buttercream frosting to decorate with. It doesn’t harden especially well for many hours, but if you wait overnight then they should be easy enough to transport to a party!
Gingersnap Men Recipe
6 Tbs. Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1/4 cup Molasses
1/4 tsp. Lemon Zest
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 3/4 cups Flour
3/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
2 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Cloves
5 Tbs. Butter
3 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tbs Cream
1. In a large bowl, cream together the 6 tablespoons of butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Add in the egg, molasses, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix until combined.
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients, starting with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to incorporate them, and then ending with the flour. Mix until just combined. Scrape the dough into a ball and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Take your dough out of the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thickness, flipping it when it is about 1/4 of the way rolled and then flipping it again after it is halfway rolled, to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to the surface. Add more flour to the rolling pin and counter as needed. Cut out your cookies using cookie cutters, place them on a baking sheet, and bake for about 12-15 minutes, waiting until they are just browning on the edges to remove them. Cool on a metal cooling rack.
5. While the cookies are cooling, cream your butter until it is light and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar and milk to create a frosting. Whip again until it is light and fluffy. The frosting should be stiff but spreadable.
6. Split your frosting into bowls and dye it whatever color you like. I suggest keeping most of it white since you can always cover the frosting in colored sprinkles. Place your frosting into piping bags and get decorating!