What does Christmas smell like to you? For me, it’s the fragrance radiating from palm-size pomanders I made while growing up by studding oranges with rows of dried cloves.
Gingerbread is the quintessential Christmas cookie, but this version is unlike any other you’ve tasted before. They taste like my childhood Christmases. Ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper and a touch of orange transform traditional gingerbread men into feisty soldiers with friendly citrus and spicy kick to get your taste buds in the holiday spirit.
I’ve found much more joy in my later years by gifting family, friends and coworkers with hundreds of Christmas cookies than I can remember feeling from receiving presents as a child. So churning out another three dozen gingerbread men for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and a noble cause brought more joy into my kitchen this year.
I mailed these gingerbread men to three lovely bloggers for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013, where hundreds of food bloggers have a massive cookie exchange to raise funds for Cookies for Kids with Cancer. We each sent a dozen cookies to three bloggers and received three different dozens from other bloggers. This year more than 600 food bloggers in eight countries raised $13,778.40. I received peanut butter cookies from Sara of Sara Ran Away with the Spoon, taro white chocolate chip cookies from Kristin of Bake Something and chocolate chip cookies from another blogger. The swap is supported by several brand partners, Gold Medal, Grandma’s Molasses, Dixie Crystals and OXO, who also gifted me with a cookie tin, molasses coupon and spatula set.
Whatever your nostalgic memories of the way Christmas smells or tastes, I hope these gingerbread men get you in the giving spirit.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive time: 2 hours
Bake time: 6 to 15 minutes
Servings: Yields about 3 ½ dozen medium-size cookies
½ cup butter flavor shortening
½ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon orange extract
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- Cream together shortening butter and granulated sugar for three minutes.
- Add molasses, eggs and extract and whip until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients.
- Add half of dry ingredients to mixer with wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
- Divide cookie dough into three equal parts, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours or until dough is stiff.
- When read to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface or parchment paper to about ¼ inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
- Place the cut out cookies at least ½ inch a apart on baking sheets to allow for expansion in oven
- Bake small cookies, the size of an egg or smaller, for 6 to 8 minutes. Bake medium cookies, about the size of your palm, for 10 to 12 minutes. Bake large cookies, the size of your entire hand, for 15 minutes.
- Let cookie for at least one hour before decorating with icing, if desired. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks and in the freezer for up to three months.