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Gingerbread People

Ice with homemade or store-bought icing
Gingerbread People
E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

Gingerbread cookies are a holiday season favorite. This recipe calls for everything but the kitchen sink. Ginger, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, dry mustard powder and nutmeg. Not to mention the dark brown sugar, molasses and vanilla extract. 

This recipe by Robin Mather appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Notes

We found chilling the dough after rolling made it easier to move the cut out cookies. Working a bit more flour into the dough also helps make the cookies sturdier.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon each: allspice, black pepper, dry mustard powder and nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 Cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup unsulphured dark molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Homemade or purchased icing, for decorating

Directions

In a large bowl, sift together 3 cups flour with the ginger, cinnamon, backing soda, allspice, black pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter and brown sugar.

Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Beat in molasses, egg and vanilla.

Add sifted ingredients to butter mixture in 3 portions, beating well after each addition. The dough will be sticky.

Scrape the dough onto a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap and shape into two disks.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. (Note: Dough can be frozen at this stage if desired. Thaw fully before proceeding.)

When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or grease them well. Set aside.

Remove dough from the refrigerator.

Flour a work surface well, and tip dough onto it.

Flour the dough and a rolling pin. (Alternatively, roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper with an unfloured rolling pin.)

Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick.

Use a 4- or 5-inch cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread people.

With a reusable straw, punch a hanging hole near the top of each person’s head.

Place the people about an inch apart on the baking sheets.

Gather up and re-roll the scraps, adding more flour if needed, and cut out remaining people, punching a hanging hole before baking. (See note.)

Bake, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back, or until they feel firm, about 10 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets until they are firm enough to transfer to a rack, about 10 minutes.

Repeat with remaining people. (Baked people can be frozen, separated by parchment paper, in an airtight container for up to 3 months.)

After people are decorated with names and faces and additional adornment and allowed to dry, tie ribbons for hanging through the holes near the tops of their heads.