Chocolate gingerbread men? Oh, yeah. Chocolatey, gingery, tasty.
Last year, my daughter’s pre-school class was going to decorate gingerbread men for a Christmas project. Having signed up for my part a little too late, all that was left was to provide the cookies to decorate. I don’t love making rolled cookies, but I signed up anyway, particularly when the teachers helpfully suggested buying them in a kit or at the grocery bakery.
But when I saw the kit and bakery cookies, I decided they wouldn’t do. Most cookies were too small and delicate, I thought for two- and three-year-olds to handle. So I went in search of a cookie recipe that would make a cookie that was firm but not crispy (so it wouldn’t break when handled roughly or dropped—no tears, please!) and also tasty for a younger palate. My resulting baking science/Frankenrecipe actually turned out really well. In fact, I got several nice comments from the other parents who tasted the cookies their kids brought home.
The cocoa makes the gingerbread men a little darker and there’s just enough to taste it without overpowering the classic gingerbread flavor. But I did cut back on the spices so that the kids would like them, too. If you like a stronger, spicier cookie, just double the amount of spices.
I rolled these out to just over 1/8 of an inch and they rise just a bit to end up just under a 1/4 inch thick. Note that the dough is pretty stiff and dry--that's because I wanted them to be firm but not crispy and crumbly. They’re soft and chewy, but hold their shape well. Most importantly, they’re delicious!
Chocolate Gingerbread Man Cookies
12-16 large gingerbread men
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons powdered ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugars, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses, syrup, and egg and continue beating on medium speed for another 2 minutes.
Add in the dry ingredients to the mix slowly while beating on low speed until just combined.
Remove the dough, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least hour.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Break off about a quarter of the dough, leaving the remaining dough in the refrigerator. Lightly flour a flat work surface and roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.
Using your cookie cutter, press out the shapes as closely together as possible and place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Return scraps to the dough in the refrigerator. Take out another quarter of the dough, and continue rolling out and cutting until all the dough has been used.
Bake cookies at 350F for about 10 minutes until slightly raised. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Decorate as desired.