Gingerbread Men with Candy Hearts

These are so cute, and fun to make!  I don’t actually like eating gingerbread – but I enjoy making them, and people love to get them.  They are a bit of work, so you can make them one day when it’s c-c-cold out and you want to stay in, or in three steps: 1. make the dough 2. roll and bake the cookies 3. have fun with the icing.

Recommended listening pairing: Over the Rhine‘s ‘Snow Angels’ album.

What you need:

2 & 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup unsalted butter or substitute (margarine or vegan “butter”)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup molasses

red candies

parchment paper

gingerbread man cutter

small heart cutter

for the icing:

2 & 2/3 cups icing sugar

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

just less than 1/4 cup of water

icing bag or ziplock baggie

What you do:

1.  Whisk together dry ingredients  (flour to nutmeg).

2.  In a large bowl beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy, then beat in the molasses.

3.  Gradually add the flour mixture until it is just combined.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour, or do this ahead of time.

4.  Smash up the candies into little bits.  I bought candies that were wrapped, then smashed them in their wrappers with a hammer on my wooden cutting board.

5.  Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/2 to 3/4 of a centimetre.  I rolled onto parchment paper, then put them in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting, and they came out all in one piece.

6.  Cut the hearts out and place them, along with the men, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Fill the hearts with some candy shards.  If you don’t use parchment the candy will stick to your pan – not good!

7.  Bake at 350 F for 6 minutes, then take them out and tap the pan on the counter, and put them back in the oven to bake for 6-8 more minutes.  Let them cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack; this will give the candy time to harden.

8.  To make the icing, first sift the icing sugar.  Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar, then gradually add the icing sugar.  Add a little water at a time, but make sure it doesn’t get too runny.

9.  Fill icing bag part way with icing.  Place a damp cloth over the top of the icing bowl so the part you aren’t using doesn’t dry up.  If you don’t have an icing bag, put the icing in a ziplock baggie, then cut a very small hole in one of the corners.  Pipe the icing on in any designs you wish!

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