Since I have been living in the US for so many years, every December I usually make not only traditional Colombian food to celebrate Christmas, but I also love making desserts and meals that are made in this country during the holiday season, like for example, gingerbread men cookies. The mere smell of molasses and cinnamon makes me feel that Christmas has officially begun, I play traditional Christmas carols and dedicate a whole afternoon to make them. And many of you many not know this, but they taste exactly like the cuca cookies that are sold in Colombia, simply delicious.
The part I enjoy the most is decorating them. I just think they’re so cute and beautiful with the different faces you can make, plus, I love adding little chocolate pearls in their clothing to make them more “fashion”, especially the gingerbread women. Traditionally, royal icing is used for decorating these cookies but a while back I decided to do it with buttercream and I loved it because it firms up well and they taste great.
- 3 cups (420 g) all purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (200 g) packed brown sugar
- ½ cup (163 g) molasses
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar
- 1–2 tbsp milk or cream
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
To Make the Cookies
- Mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In separate large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the molasses and the egg and beat until they’re well mixed.
- Add half of the amount of the flour mixture and mix until it is well incorporated. Then add the remaining flour mixture and mix again. The dough is ready when it is soft and firm.
- Place the dough on a flat floured surface and form a ball. Cut the ball in half. Shape both halves into flat discs and wrap them with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1-2 hours or until it firms up.
- Preheat your oven at 350ºF (180ºC) and cover several cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the cold dough on a flat floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about ¼ inch (.64 cm) thick.
- Cut out the dough with gingerbread men and women cookie cutters, lift them off the surface with a spatula and place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart. Keep doing this until you run out of dough.
- Bake for approximately 8 -10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 1-2 minutes and then place them on racks to let them cool completely.
To Make the Buttercream
- Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until it’s fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add half of the amount of sugar at low speed and then increase the speed to high and mix for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the remaining sugar and beat at high speed for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp of milk and beat at high speed for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and mix at high speed for 1-2 minutes. Add another tbsp of milk if the buttercream is too thick and beat again until smooth.
- Place the buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (ex. Wilton’s #1 round tip) and decorate the cookies whichever way you want. You can also place the buttercream in a small plastic bag and cut off one of the ends to decorate the cookies.
If you want softer cookies, bake them for less time. This cookie dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. Just place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw it.