Monday, December 14, 2009

Baking Gingerbread Men

My house is a mess. I haven't even ordered my Christmas cards yet, let alone mailed them. I still have gifts to buy, a menu to be drafted, and tons of wrapping to complete. However, it's the Christmas season and we have a small child in the house. This is one of only a few magical years when Santa is real, reindeer fly, and making gingerbread men is more fun than work.

Michael and I already decorated our rice krispy houses, and we tried a prefab gingerbread house a few years ago. I've learned two things from these activities. I prefer working in 2D and gingerbread is not an easy material to work with. However Dooce posted about her not so wonderful experience making gingerbread men, and it got me thinking. Maybe I should give gingerbread men a try. Despite all the hassle, her cookies turned out well, so maybe I could do it too. Plus, it helps that I have 25 years of cookie making experience - OMG I've been baking cookies for a quarter of a century- and that I had Heather's post to help guide me.

I searched through my cookie books and came up with a recipe that I liked. It did not require over night refrigeration and it had a great tip on how to roll out the dough. I picked up the ingredients and on Saturday morning I got the project started.

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I've tried to get Michael to help me bake before, but he's never been interested. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was really into making these cookies. I think it had something to do with the molasses. The dough looked enough like mud that Michael was immediately attracted to it. He may have been pretending to dig for dinosaur fossils, but the end result was that he helped me get the dough thoroughly mixed.

The main problem I noted from Heather's post was that the dough kept sticking to the counter, making it hard to work with. That molasses is sticky stuff. The first trick was to let the dough rest at room temperature for about an hour. It made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. The next trick was to roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper.

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It was pure genius! Look at how nice and neat that is. It has the added benefit of not needing to add additional flour to the cookies to roll them out. I popped the dough in the refrigerator for an hour, and cutting the cookies out was a breeze. After baking the men one sheet at a time, I ended up with these.


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They looked good enough to eat!

Finally, it was time to decorate. We sat down with some icing and gel coloring and went to town.


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I love watching Michael was he's so focused on what he's doing. He can be so serious. I tried to get him to smile, but he had no time for that kind of thing. He had cookies to decorate!


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We all tried our hand at deocrating gingerbread men. We didn't have any masterpieces, but they were good enough for us (and my poor co-workers - I'm not eating all those cookies!) In the future I'll just use icing and not the gel, but for now I consider this a sucess.

6 comments:

London said...

Dude, we totally have the same toaster.

Oh and the cookies look awesome!

JenFen said...

Aww.. the cookies turned out awesome and love the tip for the dough - I have that problem when we do sugar cookies. It sticks to the rolling pin and counter and I had to add so much flour last year. Anyway, I will try the wax paper trick. And Michael looks adorable concentrating on decorating. Looks like fun!

LauraC said...

This year I used our cutting boards for rolling out sugar cookies. You are so crafty Ms GR!

Carrie77 said...

Oh I hate making gingerbread cookies, I have only tried once but it was so hard. You make it look like a piece of cake. I had no idea you needed to let the dough sit for an hour. They are perfect!

Stacey said...

So cute!

Do you know if they make t-rex cookie cutters? I asked Cole if he wanted to make Christmas cookies and he said he wants to make t-rex cookies instead.

Mel said...

They turned out GREAT! We are going to try a pre-fab house this year. May be a disaster. We will see.