Friday, December 11, 2009

My Little Gingerbread Army

Timeline of Michelle's transition into the Christmas spirit:
24th of October - Walking through Big W exclaiming "Oh come ON, its not even my BIRTHDAY yet!" every time I walk past Christmas decorations.
13th of November - Late night shopping in the city, shaking my head in disbelief at the groups of carollers singing around the place. Followed by me telling everyone I spoke with over the next week about my disgust.
20th November - First suggestions of work Christmas party and Secret Santa are made, Silly Season seed is planted...
25th November - Christmas party confirmation. Secret Santa present brainstorming begins.
29th November - Secret Santa present decided: Gingerbread men. Christmas excitement growing rapidly, even though getting excited about Christmas before December is technically ridiculous.
3rd December, 2am - Covered in flour and bits of dough, smelling of nutmeg, ginger and cloves, trying to use previously mentioned Christmas spirit to stay awake, thinking it should be stronger now that it is officially December.
4th December - Trying not to allow Christmas spirit to dwindle, even though Gingerbread men made of my own blood sweat and tears (figuratively speaking, of course...?) were grossly under appreciated. Instead decide to focus on open bar and steak the size of my head.
Present - Presents are slowly being bought, Christmas trees are slowly being put up, Christmas Spirit definitely in full swing. Thinking of going late night shopping in the city again to fully appreciate carollers, that's if they haven't already been replaced by people dressed as Easter Bunnies or something...
Hopefully all of you are getting into the Christmas Spirit too, though hopefully less grudgingly than me... Please enjoy these ASTOUNDING Gingerbread men, not astounding because I am fully against being modest, astounding because Martha is a clever ol' bird and has made the loveliest Gingerbread I've ever had the pleasure to try. I was impatient (as per usual) so made mine thicker than suggested, but I think it only made them better, they aren't a chewy biscuit, so it was good to have them thicker so you could enjoy more of the soft biscuit-y goodness. It's been pointed out that my cookie cutter makes somewhat unconventional Gingerbread men, with one review stating "I don't know why but their feet and sloping shoulders look so cute." If you too like their sloping shoulders, I got mine from House. So yeah, even though they are kind of time consuming, I wholeheartedly recommend you give them a go, and then tell me how they went, I love seeing how people decorate their own!

I really need to learn to read recipes all the way through before beginning. It wasn't until I had finished mixing the ingredients together (at like 11pm) that I read the part about having to chill the mixture in the freezer for a whole entire hour. Not cool. Ha, freezer, cool. (Note, this is bag of mixture #1 of 3, if this gives you an idea of just how much mixture this recipe makes!)

But once the mix was all properly chilled i realised just how necessary it was, rolling the room temperature stuff would NOT have been fun. Chilled definitely WAS. (P.S. Nice food posing Michelle, didn't even put the cookie cutter up the right way).

Cookies baking, and no, the camera isn't tilted. I bought cookie trays before measuring my oven, resulting in all my baking being ever so slightly lop sided...

Just SOME of the gingerbread men! That Martha, my oh my, she certainly doesn't do things by halves. You should though. I don't think anyone needs this many gingerbread men.

Day 2: The decorating begins. While I love everything about this bowl of icing pre-mixed, there was nothing to love about it post mixed. Worst. Purple. Ever.

Sister Meagan (of the non nun variety) beginning the decorating festivities. It looks posed, but she really was like, milliseconds away from putting hair on that little guy. (The icing bag is the one I'm talking about later on).

Putting the finishing touches on her Gingerbread Borats. Because one is never enough.

The men! Oh, I'm sorry, and the ladies, and the one genderless baby. Meagan's are the six on the right, mine are the rest on the left. I'm not sure how we got so off course on the whole traditional gingerbread men front, I even googled pictures of them for ideas, but somehow we got caught up amongst a sea of toga wearing greeks, overalls and rockstars. I think i like them better this way.

One of my favourites, and incidentally one of the first to be ripped apart by my secret Santa receiver. My heart broke a little when i saw his beautifully styled hair being brutally separated from his slick little bowtie... He'll always hold a place in my heart...

Gingerbread Men

Martha Stewart's Cookies

Makes lots, can't remember exactly but I'm guessing almost 30.


  • 5 1/2 cups plain flour (US cups, but it was too late in the evening for me to fiddle around with conversions so I just went nuts and used metric)
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (I used normal salted butter so left out the extra salt)
  • 4 tsp ground ginger (nuts, i know, this is why i would feel safer it if were halved!)
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (Martha was going on about fresh ground nutmeg, but she's fancy and I'm not so I just went for the jar stuff)
  • 225g unsalted butter (as I said before, i went for the normal stuff).
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I usually just skip the dark bit and go for normal brown sugar, but i figured gingerbread is meant to be all dark and syrupy so I lashed out and got dark, it was way worth it)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses (what the heck right? I just used golden syrup, it may not have been unsulfered (does that make it sulfered?) but it still did the trick)


  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (As per usual, didn't read this part of the recipe at all, so just used normal beaters, the mixer struggled, but that probably had something to do with the 5 cups of flour...) Mix on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses and mix until combined. Add flour mixture; mix on low until combined. Divide dough into thirds, wrap each in plastic. (I used sandwich bags, I heart sandwich bags. Sorry environment.) Chill 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 175C. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
  4. On a generously floured (superclean) benchtop (Martha rolled hers out on the cookie trays, but my rolling pin was too big to do that so yeah, that's why I went bench) roll dough just under 1/4 inch thick. Brush off excess flour and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. (I didn't freeze after I rolled it, i just got in there quick and cut it up before it got too warm. With the extra bits of dough, roll them back up into a ball and pop them back in the freezer while you're rolling out the next batch, keeps it all nice and cold and rollable.)
  5. Cut dough with cookie cutters (Martha used snowflake shaped cutters, super pretty, but I've never seen them in Australia, plus who can go past a good old fashioned Gingerbread man?). Place dough onto prepared baking sheets, freeze until firm, around 15 minutes. (God, you'd think martha wanted to marry a freezer the way she keeps going on about them. I fully didn't freeze them and don't feel it had an overly negative effect. They kind of bumped into each other and stuck, but I think that's because I put them too close, plus they were on a slope...)
  6. Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, or until crisp but not darkened, rotating sheets halfway through once and firmly tapping down pan. (My oven right now is weird and cooks SUPER fast and dries EVERYTHING out, so mine cooked quicker and I probably took them out a little early out of fear of ruining them, but they were still awesome. Some hot a little burnt because I forgot about them, but I kind of liked them like that, they were crunchy with a pretty nice taste, so you really can't go wrong! Oh and the tapping thing, it was like 1am by the time I got to the actual baking stage, and the firm tapping was a bit loud for the roomies so I skipped that step). Transfer cookies to wire wracks to cool completely.

And now for the icing! Martha's had something called 'Meringue Powder' or something so I found a less weird, slightly more dangerous recipe on the internet. (Yeah, some people live on the edge by speeding, patting sharks etc, me? I'm all about the raw egg whites baby.)

Royal Icing

Best Recipes

(I shouldn't be giving them a mention, the stupid website doesn't let you copy the text. How do they expect me to steal their recipes quickly and easily??)

Because I had lots of Gingerbread men I quadrupled this recipe, too much, but better to be safe than sorry. For a regular batch I'd probably double it.

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup icing sugar (Have a little extra on hand, I had never made this before so didn't really know what it was meant to look like, but it seemed a bit runny to me, so I just kept shaking in a little icing sugar at a time till it looked firm enough not to run straight off the gingerbread men.)
  • food colouring

  1. Place egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually add icing sugar until soft peaks form. (Ha, just read this properly, there was nothing gradual about my icing sugar adding, whoops).
  3. Divide icing into bowls, add food colouring and stir until combined.
  4. Spoon the icing into separate small freezer bags, snip the ends and pipe onto cooled biscuits. (I have always sworn by using freezer bags for icing, but I have recently discovered the light, it is bright, convenient, and alot less risky (writing on my friend's birthday cake, freezer bag exploded, I cried, bad memory). I am not going to admit how long I just scoured google to find these things so I could link to them, but yeah, no luck. They're just plastic disposable icing bags, and they come with icing tips as well, only like 3 bucka or something, totz worth it, I would recommend them to the Pope if he were interested.)