December 6: Gingerbread Men

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I venture to say that Gingerbread men and women are one of those things that it’s “just not Christmas until…”they show up in a box of cookies.

Now, to that end, I have made them today–but I really don’t like them. I don’t know why. I like molasses. I like ginger and cinnamon and all the other Christmas spices. But somehow, I only like the smell of these.

But that little red-headed girl of mine just loves them. So I make them.

I start with shortening. Now, if you’re a novice baker, let me tell you that shortening means Crisco. You can use butter or margarine if that’s all you have, but generally if a recipe calls for shortening, you best find the white grease and use it. Because my mom is southern, I grew up with Crisco and thought everyone knew what it was. Since growing up and moving to Wisconsin, I have discovered that this is simply not true.

While my shortening was being beaten, I dug out the two jars of molasses from my fridge. I use molasses two times a year–when my mom is visiting (because you dip biscuits in molasses if you’re from North Carolina) and when I make gingerbread cookies.

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It takes a while to get all the molasses out. I have two jars because a few years ago, I decided it was easier to just get a new unrefrigerated bottle and use that than it was to pry open the bottle in my fridge and attempt to pour it out.

But enough about my problems.

Once I add the molasses, sugar, and egg, I get my gingerbread voodoo spices out and go to work. Spices and baking soda goes in, and then the flour. Most people would stop the mixer to add things.

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Not me. Nope. It’s just not worth it unless I can try to time the beater’s revolutions with the adding of the flour. Sometimes it gets messy. (Okay. It’s most of the time.)

Throw it in the fridge and attempt to get the rest of your Christmas crap done.

Fail miserably, and three hours later, roll out your choice of gingerbread shapes.

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I am a purist and go for the men and women, but there’s no law saying you need to.

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While you are busy rolling out the second tray of cookies, yell at your kitten for jumping on to the first tray sitting on the table, throw out those cookies, and mumble under your breath.

A naughty kitten did this.

A naughty kitten did this.

Once they are cooled, you can decorate them. I use a Wilton bag and a small round tip. Sadly, this year I didn’t make any anatomically correct gingerbread people because my kids were home. I mean, not that I’ve ever made them in the past…

Mini Me was sad when she got home from school, and this particular gingerbread man had a frown instead of a smile.

Mini Me was sad when she got home from school, and this particular gingerbread man had a frown instead of a smile.

Mom’s Gingerbread Cookies
(from Gooseberry Patch Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

Ingredients:

1/2 c. shortening
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves

Ingredients for Powdered Sugar Icing

1 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/4 t. vanilla
1 T. milk

Directions:

1. Beat shortening until softened. Add molasses, sugar, and egg, beat again, and add spices and soda. Beat again and add half the flour.
2. Add the rest of the flour, mixing well.
3. Refrigerate for three hours
4. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies.
5. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes, ice with powdered sugar icing

Cookies today: 35

Cookies this year: 281