Gingerbread Cookie People

  • Serves: Makes about 24 large cookies, depending on the size cutter used
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Cookies and photo by PBM © Sarah Phillips
Over twenty years ago, I took a cookie class from Nick Malgieri, cookbook author. I have always loved his gingerbread dough and I have adapted the recipe for my own use. It bakes up nicely and is so fragrant!
I have used this recipe for eons!


The type of molasses you use, will give you the color of the finished dough. A light or mild molasses will give you a light color, where the dark one will give you a much darker color. For houses etc that you want a different color, simply make the dough several times with different types of molasses.

5 cups unbleached or bleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; can be cold from the refrigerator
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs; can be cold from the refrigerator
2/3 cup unsulphured dark molasses

Sometimes, I add in 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper to give the cookies an "extra bite!" 

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and cloves. Set aside.

2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low until softened. (If the butter is cold, it will warm quickly from the beaters - taking about 60 seconds).

Add the sugar in two additions at the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds until the butter is lighter in brown color.
SARAH SAYS: Take care not to over-aerate the mixture.

Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.

3. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.

Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.

4. With the mixer on low, beat in about half the flour mixture.

Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula

5. Beat in all the molasses then scrape bowl and beater.

6. Add the remaining flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, and beat after each addition until it has all been added and mixed.

7. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer.

With a large rubber spatula, give the dough ONE or TWO quick folds to incorporate any stray flour or ingredients left at the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then, STOP!

1. Divide the dough in half and press each one into a rectangular shape, to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and then, place in a resealable plastic bag.

2. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days. The dough can be frozen for a month or more.

Cut and bake:
1. Set the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line at least 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Unwrap one of the pieces of dough and cut it in half. Rewrap the unused portion of dough and return it to the refrigerator.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough in a rectangular shape until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Use a floured gingerbread "man" or "woman" or any shape cutter to cut the cookies.
SARAH SAYS: You can rpress the scraps together and reroll immediately; or press together, chill and reroll later; they don't need to be chilled before rerolling.

Place the cut cookies on the prepared pans with about 1 inch between them on all sides.

5. Bake the cookies, about 12 to 15 minutes, until they become dull and dry looking and feel slightly firm when pressed with a fingertip.
SARAH SAYS: Take care not to overbake the cookies if you do, they will be very dry.

Slide parchment paper from pans, with cookies attached, onto racks to cool.

5. Repeat with remaining dough.

Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Use Royal Icing to decorate cookies with.

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