It seems like for the past 5 years I have been on the search for the perfect Gingerbread men recipe. The first year that my friend and I made Gingerbread men it was hardly a gingerbread cookie, but more of a sugar cookie with some spices thrown in – and it was amazing. Neither of us really had the palate for gingerbread frankly, it was just too strong. Over the years, we have tried new recipes and havent been huge fans, until this year.
I think it was a may have been that my tastes changed to now enjoy deep, strong flavored foods (like my new affinity for dark chocolate which I could never get myself to like before) but this year these were full on Gingerbread cookies, and I really liked them!
I got into the spirit this year with personalization of the packaging for the food that I made. I put a label on the lid of my Caramel Sauce, and figured I should keep it up with my Gingerbread Men too. Normally we just put them in little baggies and tie it with a string. This year I got crafty and made my own bag toppers! I think they turned out absolutely amazing
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda at low speed until combined. Add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy-like. Reduce speed to low, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined.
Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hr, or freeze for 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with silpats or parchment paper. When dough is chilled enough to work with, flour surface and roll out dough to about 1/4 of an inch between two pieces of parchment paper. (The thinner the dough, the less chewy and more crunchy it will be)
Cut out gingerbread men and place about an inch apart on cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 11 minutes.
Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).
Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.
Put into pastry bag and pipe design onto cookies. Let dry for aprox an hour, depending on how much frosting you put on.