Monday, December 15, 2008

Little Gingerbread Men

From the bean of Green Bean.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved cookies, especially Christmas cookies. Every year, when December 1st rolled around, she rolled up her sleeves and rolled out her cookie dough. She would bake and bake and bake. Sugar cookies. Fudge. Chocolate surprise cookies. All delicious. She would carefully tint icing, drizzle it just so, adorn it with the exact right number of sprinkles. All beautiful.

She worked in a tall tall building in a foggy city by a bay. Every year, she would arrange her treasures on reusable holiday plates. Every plate got a big frosted cookie - a gingerbread man or tree cut with a vintage cookie cutter - a green holly wreath, some pieces of peppermint fudge, a handful of peanut butter cookies adorned with chocolate kisses, a couple snowballs. She would wrap the plates with tissue paper packed away from last year and a ribbon pulled from her ribbon box.

If you knew her, worked in her building, rode the train with her, joined her for coffee or lunch, you were likely the recipient of a thoughtfully prepared, beautifully arranged, perfect Christmas cookie plate.

And then she had kids. The cookies weren't quite so plentiful. Nor were they perfectly cut. The frosting was not as neatly spread. In fact, the cookie plates plain disappeared in a mad scramble of chubby hands and floured faces. The handful of cookies that were made, though, were cut with love, decorated with memories, and savored.

As part of Abbie's month-long Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap, here is the recipe for one of her favorites: Gingerbread Men.

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup unsulfured molasses

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat butter on high until creamy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and continue beating until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in molasses and egg. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Gradually work flour mixture into creamed mixture to form a soft dough. Scrape dough into airtight plastic container and cover. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, about 4 hours. Roll out to approximately 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to cut. Cook in preheated oven, set at 350, for 8 minutes.

Use royal icing or buttercream frosting to decorate.

From Edible Christmas by Irene Chalmers.


Abbie said...

Yay! Thanks for participating! I'll link to your post after supper :)

"Run, run, run, fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" That's a great book for this time of year!

Joyce said...

Love the Picasso-esque decorating! Very creative, and, as Erin's son says, art is never wrong.

We couldn't wait for Christmas to make gingerbread men at our house. It was too good an occupation on a housebound day-first to make them, then to eat them.

Donna said...

Oh, perfect! I told Andrew we could bake gingerbread men tomorrow!

Love the picture. ;)

Green Bean said...

Abbie: More to come, Abbie. I gotta remember to get that book from the library.

Joyce: Yeah, well ours haven't been eaten because they were frosted with saliva as well as frosting. Delish.

Donna: What fun! It is an adventure, isn't it?

kale for sale said...

That gingerbread man is so beautiful. It must be the holiday thing - I have tears in my eyes.

Abbie said...

Yum! Saliva!

Donna said...

Gingerbread men, or should I say flour men :) are all baked and happy. Whatever survives until tomorrow will get frosted. Thanks for a great recipe.

Green Bean said...

Katrina: You are too funny! You are as emotional as I am. :)

Abbie: Eat up.

Donna: So glad that you guys made them. Baking with the kiddos is so much fun. I've got another cookie baking session tomorrow.

JessTrev said...

Awwww...what an amazing coworker and mom both. Love the frosting mass, babe. Someone's got their priorities straight.


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