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Gingerbread Men Cookies

With such a variety of holiday treats, how can someone conquer them all? Every year it seems that all I do is bake Christmas treats but there are so many more for me to try. How on earth can one choose??

Well, after digging through many of our cookbooks, I realized that this December I needed to tackle one classic cookie to prove myself, and that is the gingerbread cookie.

The original inspiration to make gingerbread came from my recent semester abroad in Europe. In chilly Nuremberg, Germany, I tried the local lebkuchen cookies and was hooked!

Here are a few photos from my trip to Germany.

These German cookies were loaded with spices and grainy in a way that I’d never tasted in gingerbread cookies before and, although I don’t normally like nuts in my cookies, those three almonds trapped beneath the thin layer of glaze added so much to the flavor. They gave me a new appreciation for the cookie and replaced my memories of hard, sticky gingerhouses glued together in a lumpy mess.

In my hunt for a recipe, I did see a few for lebkuchen but instead I thought I would go the classical route. Leaving my memories of Germany aside, I looked at many different recipes and tried to find one simple enough that I didn’t have to run to the grocery store for an obscure ingredient and yet still have it taste just right. Who else could I turn to but the queen of holiday cooking? Martha Stewart’s (cookbook) gave me the perfect recipe and I was off.

Let me tell you- this recipe was an absolute dream! Us bakers can have many failures and frustrations in the kitchen, but when everything comes together so perfectly it’s like a reassurance that I do know what I’m doing in the kitchen. As I pulled the dough out of the mixer, it smelled heavenly.

Working with cookie cutters and rolling dough in my last set of Buttered Rum Cookies, I was prepared for the difficulties and managed to cook all of my cookies to a crunchy perfection. I know for certain that this recipe will become a new family tradition for Christmas, considering how fast they were gobbled up! I know it’s a success when I have to hide half of the dough to make sure I have enough cookies left for pictures to share with all of you. Enjoy!

Here is the recipe that I adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1 ¼ teaspoons ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup unsulfured molasses

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and cloves, then set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then beat in egg and molasses until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add in flour mixture until just incorporated. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out refrigerated dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut out with cookie cutters. Bake until cookies are crisp but not darkened, about 5-10 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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