Tired of the typical holiday gingerbread men and women? Then pattern them after your friends, family and co-workers! Decide on a distinctive characteristic such as hair, clothing, hobby, sport or profession, and build on that. I use royal icing for decorating because it holds up better than the softer types. This is especially important if you want to display them.
Step 1: Gather the Necessities
You will need:
- Gingerbread cookie cutters
- Gingerbread dough (I use the Betty Crocker recipe)
- Rolling pin
- Cookie sheets
- Royal icing (making from meringue powder is easiest)
- Pastry bags and decorating tips
- Decorations such as silver dragees and colored sugar, etc.
- Ribbon for hanging
- Cellophane for wrapping if giving as a gift
Step 2: Rolling
- On a flour covered surface, roll out dough to 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.
- Cut figures, and place on cookie sheet, arranging arms and legs in different positions if you like.
- If you plan on hanging the cookies, punch a hole in the head with a drinking straw.
- I sprinkled sparkly sugar on some of the little guys. They make a good one bite snack.
Step 3: Bake Off
Bake as directed in recipe. Cookies should be crisp and browned; not soft.
Remove from sheet and cool completely before decorating.
Store in a covered container if you won't be decorating at this point. They will keep quite a while.
Step 4: Who's First?
- Now for your first victim. I mean cookie.
- The most useful decorating tip for the icing is a plain writing tip (I use a Wilton #3), but a star tip (#14) and a #47 add variety and different texture.
- Your imagination has to run wild here; I usually start with the hair and move down. Realism isn't terribly important...
- If you don't like an effect, just scrape it off with a knife or toothpick.
- Allow icing to dry and harden completely.
Step 5: To Hang, or Not to Hang
- Run a short length of ribbon through the hole, tie a knot, then hang from the tree. In the above picture, they are hanging from branches over my kitchen window.
- There is a chance that with time the cookies might soften enough that the ribbon tears through the top of the cookie, and it falls. To minimize this risk, make sure the cookies are baked crisp, don't use thin ribbon/string, and avoid damp areas for hanging.
- Another option is to prop them up on a shelf or mantelpiece, and arrange holly or other greenery around them.
- For storage, layer in a large tin or baking pan, with wax paper between layers. Cover tightly.
Step 6: Wrap It Up
If you want to give individual cookies as gifts, then wrapping in cellophane or placing in cellophane bags works well. Add a pretty ribbon, string or raffia, and you're good to go!
These cookies are edible as well as cute, but the royal icing is a little hard and crunchy. For me, they mostly function as fun decorations for the holidays.