I have a limited amount of patience for roll-out cookies, which is why you don't see them making an appearance on the blog very often. But apparently in the name of Christmas (and REALLY good cookies) I'm willing to put in the extra effort and chill, roll, cut, repeat like it's no big deal. This is all just to say that if you catch me trying to convince you to make any kind of roll-out cookies, they definitely, 100%, must be worth it. ←Trust.
There's a bakery in Carmel that we've gone to more times than I can remember, and every memory I have of it includes my mom buying their big - like 6" big - gingerbread man cookies and raving about how good they are. It took me 3+ years of blogging and even more years of baking to take on the challenge of making a gingerbread man cookie that would rival those bakery ones. And then I tried, and they were like perfect, perfect, perfect. SO EXCITING!
When it comes to fall/winter spices like ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and all spice, I tend to be a little on the picky side. I love them in the right amounts with the right flavors, but baked goods that are extra-spiced are just a bit much for me. My favorite part about these little men is that they have that perfect balance of molasses, ginger, and all spice - nothing too intense, but enough to earn the name gingerbread and wear it proud.
They're also really tender and soft cookies, which I adooooore, but if for some reason you like a firmer gingerbread cookie you can bake them for a minute or two longer to get that effect. I just know that the result was unanimous at my house: they're really dang good. They unspokenly became an acceptable breakfast choice and disappeared by the pair at dessert every night. To be honest, my own obsession with them was the biggest hint for me that they were even better than I had hoped. I've never been particularly drawn to gingerbread cookies before, so the fact that I was sneaking bites of them left and right meant they were somethin' special.
And can we just take a moment to acknowledge how cute and Christmasy they are? I'm smitten. :)
Classic Gingerbread Man Cookies
A simple but spot-on gingerbread cookie, with a soft chew and the perfect balance of warm winter spices.
- Cook Time: 8 minutes
- Total Time: 8 minutes
- Yield: about 16 (5 ½" tall) gingerbread men 1x
- 14 ⅞ ounces (3 ½ cups, spoon and level) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon all spice
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 5 ⅝ ounces (¾ cup packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 6 ounces (½ cup) molasses*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- extra flour, for dusting
- confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until very light and fluffy, wiping down the bowl and beater as needed. Beat in the egg until fully and smoothly incorporated. Beat in the molasses and vanilla extract until evenly incorporated.
- Scrape down the bowl and beater and add the flour mixture, mixing in on lowest speed until almost evenly combined. Finish folding in by hand just until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Divide dough in half and shape each half into a rough square on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.**
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Working with one half of dough at a time, remove from fridge and transfer to a sheet of parchment dusted generously with flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour and roll out to ¼" thick, adding more flour as needed. Cut out gingerbread and transfer to prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each cookie. Bake in preheated oven for 7-9 minutes, until cookies look dry on top but are still a bit soft to the touch in the center.***
- Meanwhile, ball up the scraps from the first half of dough, wrap, and refrigerate. Repeat the above process with the second half of dough, making sure to use a cool baking sheet for each new batch of cookies.**** Finally, combine all dough scraps together and roll, cut, bake, and repeat as/if needed until all cookies are made.
- Cool cookies on baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, or until firmer, before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving, if desired.
*I wouldn't suggest using blackstrap molasses for this recipe, since it is much stronger and more bitter than your typical lighter molasses.
**The dough can be refrigerated for up to a few weeks to bake later. If you do keep the dough in the fridge for more than a few hours, let it sit at room temperature for just a few minutes before rolling out to prevent cracking.
***8 minutes always seems to be the perfect baking time for me, but if you want a more firm cookie, lean towards 9 minutes or so. If you use a different sized cookie cutter, the baking time may vary, so look for the visual cues described in the recipe.
****If you only have one or two baking sheets, you can cool them down quickly by running cold water over them. Dry before using again.