Who loves Gingerbread men?
For people who love Christmas, it’s beginning the best time of year.
The planning part of Christmas -thinking ahead to the advent calendars, the decorations, the Christmas tree, gifts, and of course, the Christmas menu- is one of my favorite parts of this season.
If you’re like me, during this time, you’re trying to incorporate a mix of old and new. You’re probably looking through some of your traditional family recipes, but maybe you’re also looking for new ideas and new recipes as well.
This recipe, you know, is not Italian. Rather the big gingerbread traditions come from Germany, France, the Netherlands and the British Isles. But today me too, in my Italian kitchen, I make them every year. These cookies really spell Christmas to me. Maybe for its spicy taste. I’m huge fan of all the spices!
Even if I suspect the true reason is that these sweet men make me happy.
Gingerbread Men: a Recipe with a Long History
In the past, gingerbread men were different. “In an mid-15th-century English cookbook manuscript, which does not call for ginger”. Many of the earliest versions of gingerbread were basically honey cakes. The addition of butter gave rise only to the 18th century recipes. Any spices that were added would change over time, as the popularity and availability of spices varied.
During the time I found my own mixture of spices to make delicious cookies. I hope it works well for you too.
I hope you’ll love eating it, and it will be perfect for your Advent Calendar or as an ornament on your Christmas tree.
Buona cucina, Monica
I love to research and discover origins of recipes and ingredients. Who knows why gingerbread men are shaped like men in the first place? Read the answer and the history of their origin: The Surprising Reasons Why Gingerbread Men Became a Holiday Classic by Olivia B. Waxman
As Gerard Paul wrote in the article History of Gingerbread: From Expensive Fair Bounty to Holiday Centerpiece, gingerbread, and not only the cookies, has become a big part of the Christmas tradition in many different cultures and countries. Read the article for a very interesting investigation about its long history around the world. I loved it!
My powdered spice mix consists of 5g ginger, 3g cinnamon, 1g cloves, a pinch of nutmeg.
You can make them with cocoa, or without. If you want to make them in both ways, divide the dough and add the cocoa only to one part.
White pearl sugar or chocolate chips are both great for decorating eyes, to make buttons and more, don’t forget to place before to bake.
To make cookies or decorations for the Advent calendar or for the Christmas tree, don’t forget to use a toothpick to make the hole before to bake!
I prefer to decorate with icing made of water and powdered sugar (125 g powdered sugar and 2 tbsp water, stir and decorate)
Gingerbread Men Recipe
about 30 cookies
250 g flour 00
50 g corn starch
100 g powdered sugar
9 g mix powdered spices (look at Food Tips)
2 whole eggs (small)
120 g butter softened to room temperature
optional: unsweetened cocoa powder, 13 g (half a dose if you add cocoa only to half the dough)
In a large bowl, sift and mix the flour, corn starch, sugar, salt, spices and cocoa. If you make both the version, before to add cocoa, divide the dough in two equal parts.
Add eggs and butter, and knead.
Then roll the dough into a ball, and wrap with a plastic film. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Roll out the dough using a wooden rolling pin and use your favorite cookie cutters to shape your cookies.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper, place cookies and bake for about 8-9 minutes in a 180 degree preheated oven.
For those of you who are looking for Italian Festive Recipes or Inspirations, look at my ?Christmas Recipes?: HERE