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This is about....
gingerbread man duo
       THE HOLIDAYS AND GINGERBREAD ARE SYNONYMUS as far as I'm concerned. Even if you don't make anything gingerbread yourself, you can find it everywhere, along with those fruitcakes that everyone seems to re-gift.
       FOR YEARS, I MADE A BIG GINGERBREAD HOUSE covered flaunting tons of candy decorations, piped designs around the windows and doors, and a vat of pure white royal icing
poured over the entire roof to look just like snow. It was set on a plot of more colorful candies, more icing, with trees and a fence made out of even more gingerbread. Starting the day after Thanksgiving--it was no small feat to get it done, along with all of the other holiday baking I did. But I liked doing it, and it lasted forever. ONE YEAR, IT UNBELIEVEABLY SAT IN THE DINING ROOM UNTIL EASTER! when you could finally hear pieces of it falling off and shattering on the table. At that point, it was TIME FOR THE TRASH, which was A SAD AFFAIR, after all the work that went into it. But, next years was always right around the corner..
       I don't have that kind of time to indulge in building houses anymore. But I still take the time to make something gingerbread every year. This year it's big gingerbread men. You don't have to be an architect to stamp out a bunch of these crunchy cookies. And YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A FINE ARTIST EITHER. A dot of any frosting you like (HORRORS! even canned!) for his eyes, mouth and maybe a few buttons will cover the basics. But if you want to get carried away from there, be my guest!
       My very favorite gingerbread recipe is still the tried and true Martha Stewart recipe from years ago. It's sweet, spicy and easy to roll out. My only tweak is that I leave out the black pepper. But feel free to add it back in. Use any cookie cutters you have on hand--large or small. You'll just have to shorten the baking time on smaller ones. They're great as GIFTS, ORNAMENTS, or JUST TO EAT with a steaming cup of tea.


LESSONS Learned:
1. You can make the dough well in advance, up to a week.
2. Make sure the dough is very well chilled. I make flattened one inch disks wrapped in plastic wrap, so it warms up faster and it's easier to roll out.
3. Roll the dough out on a good amount of flour, it's get's sticky fast. And, re-roll the scraps until all of the dough is used up.
4. Use parchment to bake on. Why make it hard on yourself?
5. These cookies will last forever, stored in an airtight container. So if you decide to make them this year, MAKE ALOT!

Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Cookies
(slightly adapted)

3 cups all-purpose flour (I like Heckers)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional, I omit it)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

Make the dough:
       In a medium size bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
       In the bowl of a stand mixer at medium speed, cream the butter and dark brown sugar. Add the ginger, cinnamon , cloves and salt and mix until well combined. Add the eggs and molasses, mixing to combine.
       At low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until all the flour is incorporated.
       Divide the dough into thirds, forming into one inch disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour or overnight. This can be made and chilled up to one week in advance.

Make the cookies:
       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line rimmed cookie sheets with parchment.
       On a floured work surface, roll the dough out 1/4 inch thick . Using floured cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as you can. Re-roll the scraps and cut out once or twice more. Brush off any accumulated flour at the bottom of the cookies before placing them on the cookie sheet. Chill for 15 minutes, and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on size, until the edges are lightly browned.
       Cool completely before decorating. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Makes alot!....YUM!

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