Dancer, Instructor, Choreographer

J Michael Winward

The Gingerbread Boys

Over the past few years, Arti and I have developed a Christmas eve tradition. We finish up any last minute shopping in the afternoon and then head home to wrap gifts. We then proceed to imperil our relationship, pushing it to the brink of collapse, by making gingerbread men together. As if holiday chores weren't stressful enough, we cap it all off by preparing the only recipe of the entire year for which the final products are all meant to look uniformly cute. The process is both highly involved and extremely monotonous--it is, at once, the closest we will ever come to producing children, and confirmation that we never should. Integral to making it out alive is that we will wake up on Christmas morning and hand each other a present to unwrap. It is a peace offering, a reminder that this is a season for giving, and forgiving. We pack up our gingerbread army and, in the spirit of the season, enter into a mutual, self-induced amnesia. We put it all behind us. Until next Christmas eve.  



3 cups flour

2 tspn ground ginger

1 tspn ground cinnamon

1 tspn baking soda

1/4 tspn ground allspice

1/4 tspn salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 tspn vanilla extract

Store bought icing (the cookies are homemade enough. Ain't nobody got time for that.)


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Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl.



Beat brown sugar and butter together in another mixing bowl. If using an electric mixer, set it to medium speed. If using a whisk and your arm, set it on high speed.




Add molasses, egg and vanilla to wet ingredients and mix well.


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Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture.


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Keep going...



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That beer is not part of the recipe, but it was important to the process.


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Almost there...


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That's just about done.



Flatten the dough into a disk. At this point, we realized that the recipe called for refrigerating the dough for 4 hours.


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So we stuck it in the freezer for 20 minutes.


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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the dough is cooling. Once chilled, roll the dough out on a floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness.


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Begin building your army.


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We took some advice from Bridget Lancaster of America's Test Kitchen, who suggested cutting out gingerbread men directly on the parchment paper. That way, all you have to do is peel away the dough around them...


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and they're ready for the oven! We may have rolled the dough a little thin. 8 minutes in the oven made them a little crispy, so we reduced the baking time to 6 minutes, producing softer men.


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This recipe yielded 4 dozen gingerbread men...


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3 dozen of which made it out of the icing process alive.


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You said it, pal.


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Merry Christmas to all! I'm going to bed.


Recipe adapted from

RecipesJ Michael Winward