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Gingerbread People

A tasty cookie recipe that you can really “dress” up!

Cookie recipes: Gingerbread People

I used to think gingerbread people were mostly for decorating and looking at, but not for eating.

Now I think they’re as yummy to eat as they are fun to make. The texture is light and crisp, and the spice is just right. Best of all, the cookies aren’t too sweet. This way, the kids can decorate the little people with icing and all kinds of candy and not go into sugar shock! 

Ingredients

Cookies:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

½ cup molasses

Cookie cutters needed: “people” from 3–5 inches tall

Confectioners’ Sugar Icing:

6 cups confectioners’ sugar

6–8 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Food colorings, optional

Decorations:

Colored and coarse sugars, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, multicolor nonpareils, red hots and other mini-candies, sweetened shredded coconut, raisins.

Preparation

Cookies:

1. Whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the egg, then the molasses. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour mixture until incorporated and the dough starts to clump together.

3. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide it in half. Flatten each half into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or until firm enough to roll out.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Working with one disk at a time, roll it out on a well-floured surface to a scant ¼-inch thickness. (Sprinkle the rolling pin with flour if the dough sticks to it.) Use assorted “people” cutters to stamp out cookies.

6. Using a thin metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared sheets, arranging them about 1½ inches apart. Gather the scraps into a ball, chill the dough as necessary, and reroll a few times.

7. Bake the cookies for about 11 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, or until the edges appear slightly browned. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for a few minutes to firm up, then carefully transfer them to a rack to cool completely before decorating.

8. Store undecorated cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Makes 35–45 cookies (depending on the size of the cookie cutters)

Icing:

1. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the milk and the lemon juice. Add more milk as needed, but keep in mind that the icing must be thick enough to pipe.

2. If using food coloring, divide the icing among a few small bowls. Add the food coloring by drops, tinting the icing to the desired shade.

3. Spoon the icing into a squeeze bottle or a pastry bag fitted with a small round decorating tip. Pipe the icing around the edge of the cookie or in any pattern desired.

4. To glaze a cookie with icing or paint inside a piped outline, thin the icing slightly with milk and then spread the icing on the cookie with a small paintbrush. Before the icing dries, decorate with assorted sugars and candies. (Wet icing acts as the glue.) Let the icing set completely before storing the cookies.

5. Store iced and decorated cookies, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

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