Whether you are making gingerbread men, people, bears, ninjas (ninjabread), stockings, bells or other festive shapes, this is the classic recipe, tried and true over the course of my entire life by my mother. I have successfully made this a half batch, by using the smallest eggs from one of my hens (ironically, the largest bird), lightly beating and not adding the whole thing (not scientific). It is a large batch by default, and you can make it up and keep in refrigerator. Let it warm up a bit before rolling out.
My madre’s installation of gingerbread shows a natural progression through a too small bag of mini-M&Ms. From full mourning wear (less spats) with two eyes and three buttons, to more casual with two eyes, to a modern cycloptic ginger to finally, either a naked eyeless cookie or a cookie backside, like watching someone walk away. True art and definite taste differences….
Gingerbread Man Recipe:
Makes 60 but will feel like 100
- 1 cup molasses (such as Grandma’s brand)
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup hot water
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 t salt
- ½ t ground ginger
- 6 cups flour
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Simmer together molasses and shortening together for 15 minutes in a small sauce pan, over medium low heat.
- Meanwhile, cream together sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Having a stand mixer makes these easier but decreases the cardiovascular benefits.
- Dissolve together the hot water and baking soda. Then add to the sugar/egg/vanilla mixture. Mix well.
- Add to the mixing bowl the spices: clove, cinnamon, salt and ginger. Mix well.
- Now add the molasses mixture to the mixing bowl with other ingredients and mix well.
- Start to add the flour into the batter now, 1-2 cups at a time. Mix well after each addition.
- When all mixed, prepare the area to roll out the dough. I like to clean the counter and flour it real well. Rub some flour on the rolling pin and start rolling, working in batches. This recipe tolerates a lot of flour so use a lot to avoid sticky icky mess. Aim to roll your dough about ¼ to 3/8 inch thick.
- Cut with your favorite cookie cutters. It is handy to have smaller ones for the little scraps of dough in between gingerbread people. Just keep flouring the surface, re-rolling and cutting the dough.
- Bake on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.
Enjoy! Get creative, use funny cookie cutters! This is a perfect cookie party recipe or one to share with children. You can decorate with just about anything. A simple frosting or icing would be delicious as well.