I love this gingerbread cookies recipe as it is soft in the middle and crispy where it needs to be. The combination of golden syrup and sugar ensures that it’s not too sweet, it’s just perfectly decadent for the holiday and Christmas period.
Gingerbread cookies can provide a lot of entertainment for kids and parents alike, as you can turn decorating them into a fun activity with the family. They need not be picture-perfect, it’s about the fun to be had, not the look of the final product. Decorating your own cookies adds a certain level of charm to the cookies, there is nothing like the imperfections of a “perfect” homemade gingerbread man cookie.
In all fairness, I do love baking but don’t have a sweet tooth and don’t bake very often so baked goods will spoil in our house. But Christmas and the Holiday season is the one exception as it’s a time for enjoying food and celebrating family, so there is always a guest of some sort who will enjoy my baking efforts and we can worry about our waistlines in January, right?
Varying the Spice Levels for Your Gingerbread Cookies
In terms of spice, you can dial up the amount of ginger if you like your gingerbread men with a little bit of punch, you can also play around with other flavours on top of the ginger and cinnamon.
Cloves and allspice go well with this combination. Just be careful with these two spices as they can quickly overwhelm the ginger and cinnamon.
Which Sugars Work Best?
In real terms, you can use regular white granulated sugar. However, I prefer brown sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado as it adds a depth of flavour to the cookies. This recipe also calls for golden syrup to make them caramelly but not too sweet in combination with the sugar.
Tips on Making the Perfect Gingerbread Man Cookies
Working with sticky dough: You can wrap and chill the gingerbread dough to make the rolling process a bit easier. This cookie dough is relatively sticky. So rolling it out on an oiled or floured surface will help to ensure that it doesn’t stick.
Chilled dough will be slightly less sticky. If you’re struggling to lift the cookies, chill it in the fridge for an hour or so.
The version I made was rolled out straight away, but I did take extra care when lifting the cookies. Some had to be re-shaped a little when placing them in the baking tray. Rolling them out on a smooth surface will also help, my worktop has a slight texture that made it a bit more challenging.
Rolling the dough: You can flour your hands and the rolling pin. Just use the flour sparingly because white spots of flour on your gingerbread coloured cookies may appear. Most of the flour will “bake-off”, but too much might be an issue later on.
Roll the dough to roughly 0.5cm or just under 1/4 inch thickness. The cookies will rise and puff out a little so it depends how thick you want your gingerbread men.
Once you’ve rolled out your cookies, you can use a gingerbread man cookie cutter like these. If you’d like to vary the shapes you can always get a Christmas set of cutters like these as the set includes a gingerbread man along with other Christmassy shapes.
Get ready to bake: Place the cookies on an oiled baking tray, about 1cm to 1.5cm or so apart to give them space to rise.
If they don’t all fit on your baking tray you can make them in batches as the baking time is only 20 mins.
Decorating Your Gingerbread Cookies
Before decorating, make sure you cool your cookies completely if you don’t the icing will be too runny and you’ll end up with a mess. You can use an assortment of decorations, smarties for buttons, cut marzipan for bow ties and so on.
To decorate your cookies use Royal Icing, this BBC recipe works well you’ll just need to divide the quantities as it makes way too much for one batch of cookies. You can easily divide the recipe by 3 and still have some leftover. Don’t worry if you don’t have glycerine, it’s not essential just leave it out. You can also flavour and colour your icing with a few drops of food colouring and essence. I used a bit of caramel flavouring in my version.
Piping: Use a piping bag set like this one that has a few piping bags in the set so you can vary icing colour is the easiest option. My set only has one piping bag so using extra colour was a bit of a struggle.
Gingerbread Man Cookies
- 3 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup organic butter or vegan alternative at room temperature
- 1 cup organic demerara sugar
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 high welfare or pasture-raised egg
- 1/2 cup golden syrup
- 1 tbsp organic milk
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 large pinch of salt
- Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gasmark 4
- Cut the butter into 1cm squares then combine the egg and butter, using a hand or stand mixer.
- Add the ginger, cinnamon and syrup to the bowl. Then mix the baking soda and milk separately and add to the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together.
- Sift the flour into the same bowl as the egg and mix well until a soft dough forms.
- Next roll the dough out on a floured or oiled surface until it's around 0.5cm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into the desired shapes. Once cut, carefully lift the shapes from the surface and place in a baking tray. Be careful the dough can be quite sticky. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Let the biscuits cool completely and decorate with royal icing and your chosen decorations.