This is Christmas week in CT., so I have been making many Christmas favorites like divinity fudge, chocolate toffee, and molasses-free gingerbread men. In between my baking and stovetop cooking, I managed to grade 70 research papers and enter the grades for my 75 college freshmen exactly on deadline. Yay me!! Well, not so fast. I also managed to ruin one third of my gingerbread men by baking them too long, so the sugar orange mouths baked as hard as a marble. Sadly, I had to break off their heads and save their poor headless bodies to serve to less discriminating guests like grandchildren.However, the Christmas spirit goes on.
This recipe for gingerbread men does not contain molasses. Molasses is on Monash University’s high in FODMAPS list which means folks with IBS and other digestive issues might find they can’t tolerate foods that contain molasses. I am one of those folks, so I found a recipe that delivers all the ginger and spice of a great gingerbread cookie, yet contains no molasses.
These are roll and cutout cookies and here are some tips for a successful batch of gingerbread men. After you make your dough, chill it for at least two hours or even overnight. If you don’t want to make them all at once, only work with one half the dough and leave the rest in the fridge for another day. It keeps in the fridge for several days and up to a week.When ready to make cookies, leave out your chilled dough for 30 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll out.
When you set up your cutout session, use a large wooden board to roll out on, or a clean counter if you have no board. Lay down a large piece of wax paper and place one quarter of your softened dough on top. Place a second large piece of wax paper on top of the dough; then, roll out your dough to 1/4 inch or even 1/8 inch. Lift off the wax paper from on top.
No longer or what happened to me will happen to you – my third batch of cookies were too brown and crisp and orange slice mouths turned to marble. You do not want to crack the tooth of a guest!!
Repeat this using the scraps of your dough until all is gone. Then you can begin on another 1/4 of the dough using the wax paper on the bottom and for rolling on top just as before. The wax paper is wonderful because the cookies don’t stick. When they begin to stick, use a fresh piece for the bottom and for rolling on top of the dough. Don’t use plastic wrap because it scrunches up and causes wrinkles in your dough.
It definitely is a labor of love to make gingerbread men, but when you are done, you will be thrilled with your adorable, winsome cookies that look and taste like Christmastime.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I have always preferred Gold Medal)
1/4 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 to 1 tsp ginger
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 large egg
Dried cranberries or raisins
Sugared orange slices or other fruit for the mouth of gingerbread men.
Decorating icing (optional)
In a large ceramic bowl, whisk together flour, soda, spices and salt.In the bowl of a stand mixer, place butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium until creamy and fluffy.Add the egg and beat well until it is incorporated into the mixture.
With the mixer reduced to low, add in the dry ingredients 1/3 at a time making sure each addition is incorporated pretty well before adding the next third. Stop and scrape down the bowl to make sure all the flour gets into the butter mixture before continuing to add the rest of the flour. When all is added, stop beating. Take bowl off the stand and with a large wooden spoon, continue to mix in the flour until it is incorporated into the dough.
Gather the dough into a ball and then pat it down into a flat disk so it will be easy to roll out. Wrap the dough in plastic and cover with foil or place in a zip lock bag. Chill in the fridge a few hours or overnight. See note above about how to proceed after chilling, and how to roll out and bake.
Before baking the cookies, place the fruit sliced as a mouth and the cranberries as buttons on your gingerbread men. If you prefer, just bake without fruit and decorate with icing when cool. I myself am icing challenged and prefer to use fruit for mouths and buttons, but do whatever you love. Merry Christmas.