Crazy Gingerbread Family

Life, work travel, failed recipes and/or crappy photos have been interfering with my blogging lately!! But daylight savings has kicked in (natural light- yay!), and I’m trying my brother’s camera so that certainly helps! May have to invest in a little artificial light that looks natural though….but I’m kind of amazed at the good photos I’ve been able to take just with my li’l old iPhone. I haven’t quite found the right balance between fun hobby and obsession yet though. Seems I’m quite good at neglecting my family while dinner gets cold as I’m trying for the best shot! But I try to make it up to them by spending a lot of time reading to Ev after dinner.

I can’t tell you how many different gingerbread men books we’ve been reading lately. Evan keeps bringing them home from school, plus we have the lovely Jan Brett version, The Gingerbread Baby. So it’s kind of all gingerbread all the time these days! But hey, if he’s willing to practice reading, we’ll sit through another story! So naturally when I asked him if there was anything special he wanted to do with his Nana at our upcoming visit, he immediately said “make gingerbread men!”

He floured (a bit), rolled (a bit), cut out (a bit) and then announced he was bored.

Note Nearly Headless Nick (we’re also into Harry Potter these days) on the top left. The cookies do swell somewhat in the oven which provided some much needed treatment for our friend NHN, who became just Nick.

Decorating brought him back along with, in typical 7 yo boy fashion, the request to make some of them look creepy or fierce. So Nick ended up with crazy eyes and “blood” dripping from his neck!

Lots of fun and they were delish! Plus I got to eat Smarties, which are NOT the slightly-sour-like-a-SweetTart candies you see at Halloween in the States. No, those are called Rockets, thank you very much. Smarties, for my US friends, are like M&Ms only better. (I’m not biased or anything). Anyway, the cookies were pretty mild as far as gingerbread goes which is good for a younger palate. If you wanted it to be a bit sharper you could use a darker molasses and add more ginger and allspice. You can make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze it for a couple of weeks if you want.

Gingerbread
Adapted from Bon Appetit, Dec 2006, via Epicurious.com

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses

Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl and set aside. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy, then add in molasses, then add dry ingredients. With your hands, work dough in to four balls and flatten somewhat into discs. Wrap in saran and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Roll out relatively thin and cut into shapes. Transfer to cookie sheet and bake until almost firm in the center. In the meantime, gather the scraps and roll out again. At some point the dough will get warm and sticky and will need to be chilled again. Just wrap it back up, put it in the fridge and use another chilled disc in the meantime. Wait until fully cooled to decorate.

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