Ginger cookies should always taste like ginger. Spicy ginger, in fact. And these boys, they would be spicy and adorable.
The trio of spices are a big part of this cookie. Use all the ginger indicated. You won’t be sorry. Unless you aren’t a ginger fan (read: Vanilla Holiday Cookies here).
The flavors get better as the cookie ages. but the cookie also get a little softer. If you want a crisper cookie you’ll have to roll them more thinly and make smaller boys. Large cookies rolled very thin tend to break, especially with the weight of the icing.
The dough is going to be very sticky. Don’t add more flour and don’t worry about it. Once it’s chilled it still remains sticky. What? I bet you thought I’d say it becomes more easy to work with. Nope. It’s a sticky dough but if you add flour (and yes, yes I did) it just gets dry and crumbly once baked. Roll the sticky mess between sheets of plastic wrap, dusted with flour or even unsweetened cocoa (that helps keep the molasses color intact) – but dust lightly.
Make sure the dough is very chilled and even frozen for best (read: saving the sanity) results. I roll it out, slide the sheet of dough (remember to roll them out to a generous 1/8 inch thick) onto a baking sheet and freeze it for about 15 minutes. Then I cut out the shapes, refreeze for another few minutes. I use a small offset spatula to lift out the boys ever so gently and place them on a clean parchment lined pan. I chill those while I roll out another sheet of dough and repeat until both sheets are filled with cookies. There might be a few leftover scraps of dough – I flatten those into small cookies and bake them, too.
These can be made with either shortening (for a dairy-free version) or unsalted butter. Ingredients plus directions for both are indicated in the recipe. Be sure to read through the entire recipe before starting so you’re familiar with what to use for each type of cookie.
The cookie fluffs up nicely in the oven (fat & spicy ginger boys) yet they’re sturdy and slightly soft once thoroughly cooled. Once you get to the second or third batch of these cookies, the sticky dough isn’t even a challenge anymore – there’s a cookie making zone that happens when baking holiday goodies. Perhaps it might have something to do with the rum or wine that keeps ending up on the counter top and then in a glass nearby, for some reason.
Happy holidays and three cheers for gingerbread people that everyone will enjoy.
|Spicy Gingerbread Boys|| |
- 148 grams Spectrum shortening (2/3 cup) OR 230 grams unsalted butter, room temperature (1 cup)
- 150 grams granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 60 grams unsulphured molasses (3 tablespoons)
- 1 large orange, zested
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (WITH SHORTENING ONLY - LEAVE OUT IF USING BUTTER)
- ½ teaspoon orange oil or extract
- 2 extra large eggs
- 450 grams Canteen blend (3½ cups) (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger (heaping)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground clove (generous)
- 440 grams powdered sugar sifted (4 cups)
- 4 tablespoons meringue powder or Deb-El just whites
- 140-170 grams warm water (about ½ to ¾ cups)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl blend together shortening OR butter with sugar, molasses, zest, juice (but not if you're using butter) orange oil/extract and eggs until combined. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until combined. Add to wet mixture and stir until combined. Dough will be quite sticky. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and overnight is better. Dough will keep refrigerated for up to five days - can be frozen but thaw in the refrigerator before using.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough between sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap to a generous ⅛ thick for best results. Keep dough chilled while working with it and if it starts to get floppy, chill again. Cut out gingerbread figures. Chill dough again if necessary before lifting cutouts and placing on parchment lined baking sheets about an 1 ½ -inches apart. Remember to roll dough thicker for larger cookies and a bit thinner for small cookies.
- Bake 6-9 minutes for very small cookies. Bake 15-18 minutes for very large cookies. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Remove to a rack and cool completely.
- Decorate with royal icing or any frosting you like.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whip attachment, stir the sifted powdered sugar with the meringue powder or Deb-El Just Whites until mixed together - about 15 seconds on low. Add the warm water slowly and mix on low and stop adding water the second the mixture begins to look like a thick glaze - it should fall off a spoon slowly in thick ribbons. You will have extra water - I promise. Now add the flavoring. Mix on medium speed and then turn the mixer up to medium high and let it mix for about 3-4 minutes. If the icing is too thick add a tiny bit of water. Too thin, add additional sifted powdered sugar until it looks like the right thickness.
- Pipe or spread on the cookies. Add sprinkles, coarse colored sugar or other decorations you wish before the icing sets - which happens quickly. Makes about 100 very small cookies or 15-18 very large (5-inch) cookies.