Christmas Gingerbread

Originally uploaded by ted_major

We used to make these at Christmas when I was in high school, and they were delicious. Mom found the cookie molds and the recipe recently and I made them again. The recipe noted that the spices needed increasing, so adjusted them a bit, and in looking at other recipes also found the secret ingredient for gingerbread: cayenne pepper! Just a dash brings out the heat of the ginger.

  • 2 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cups water
  • 3/8 cups molasses
  • 1 Tbs. Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 Tbs. Cloves, ground
  • 2 Tbs. Ginger, ground
  • 2 (or 3!) dashes cayenne pepper
  • 8 Oz. (1/2 lb.) Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbs. Water
  • 8 Cups White Wheat Flour (I used white whole wheat)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup or molasses in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; add butter. Stir until butter is melted and the mixture cools. Dissolve baking soda in remaining tablespoon of water and add to mixture. In a large bowl, combine flour and spices. Add the sugar/butter mix to the flour mixture and stir. Chill for several hours. Divide into small portions, roll out and cut out gingerbread men. Place on greased cookie sheet.

To make the ginger bears in molds, don’t chill. Lightly oil the molds once before making cookies, and then flour before each cookie. Take a small portion of the dough and press into the mold. Thinner cookies show more detail than fat ones. Turn over and shake out. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
ginger snaps
UPDATE! Feb. 11, 2010: This gingerbread also makes a fantastic ginger snap: roll into balls approx. 1 inch in diameter, then flatten to a 2-inch circle, and dip the top into sugar (granulated works fine, but the coarseness of turbinado is a little more attractive). Bake at 400F (convection if you have it) for 7 minutes.