It just wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread. When I baked these today, Milo came into the kitchen, a gingerbread boy hanging out of his mouth, and said to me with the kind of extreme sincerity that only a 4-year-old can pull off when talking about cookies: “These are my favorite. Really, Mommy: my favorite.” (I can’t imagine from whom he picked up talking in italics; I really have no idea.)
Gingerbread Boys from Yellow Rose Greatest Hits
makes 2 or 3 dozen, depending on cookie cutter size
1/4 cup shortening or coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup brewed coffee or espresso shots
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream together shortening, brown sugar, and molasses. Stir in coffee and set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Mix flour mixture slowly into molasses mixture.
Divide dough into two portions and wrap each portion with wax paper or parchment and freeze for a half hour or chill in refrigerator for at least two hours. Take out one portion, keeping the other portion chilled until you roll it out. Let stand for 5 minutes before rolling.
On lightly floured parchment paper, roll out each portion to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. I like to roll this dough a little thicker than usual, which results in a softer cookie. Cut with medium-sized, floured gingerbread cookie cutters.
On greased baking sheets, bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks before decorating. Store decorated cookies in an airtight container with sheets of wax or parchment paper between the layers.
Gingerbread Boy Sandwiches: Roll dough out thinner: 1/8-1/4 inch. Use a straw to cut out “buttons” in the bellies of half of the cookies. For vegan cream cheese frosting, cream together 4 oz vegan cream cheese, 2 tablespoons margarine, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add 2 cups sifted powdered sugar and beat until sugar is fully incorporated. Optional: stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger. Chill frosting until ready to use. Spread a thin layer of frosting between two cookies.