I’ve always wanted to decorate gingerbread men but there’s one problem: I don’t really care for gingerbread. I think it’s the cloves. Or the molasses. Or the powdered ginger (which tastes nothing like delicious real ginger). This year I baked gingerbread men using maple syrup instead of molasses with a whole lot of cinnamon and no cloves at all so that I could partake in the tradition.
The dough is quite sticky, as are most cut-out doughs, so plan to make the dough at least four hours or even the night before you want to bake these cookies. The frosting is phenomenal. I wish I had taken a photo of the icing while it was still in the mixing bowl so you could see how glossy and gorgeous it is! I gave many of my gingerbread men gloves and shoes just to pile on more frosting! It’s a homemade vanilla royal icing, but maple extract in lieu of the vanilla would be fantastic as well.
Be sure to sift the powdered sugar for the icing. Always. Non-sifted powdered sugar is an absolute destroyer of all frosting. If there is one time to sift, it’s with powdered sugar in frosting! Trust me.
I had the cutest evening ever last night decorating these maple cuties by the fire with my friend Emily, drinking my homemade hot cocoa and watching a holiday film. I set out sprinkles but we preferred the look of the white frosting. Be sure to tag @therosetable in your photos if you make these. I would love to see how you decorate your gingerbread men. I hope you have as much fun as we did decorating these!
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 vegetable shortening
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp maple extract
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Vanilla royal icing (recipe follows)
- Beat maple syrup, brown sugar, and shortening at high speed until combined. Mix in egg, vinegar, and maple extract at a low speed.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Whisk the mixture together and slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three batches.
- Divide dough in half, form disks, and transfer to plastic wrap. Place dough circles in fridge and chill for four hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness on a floured surface, cut out with a gingerbread man cookie cutter, and place 6-8 on a cookie sheet. (Grease if you have older cookie sheets. Newer cookie sheets will be fine fine.) Bake for 8-10 minutes, cool on the sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Frost as desired with vanilla royal icing.
Vanilla Royal Icing
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Separate whites from yolks. Reserve the yolks for another use. (I made an omelet the next morning.) Beat egg whites with vanilla extract until frothy. Add sifted powdered sugar and mix until incorporated, then beat on high for 5 minutes or until glossy. Cover bowl with a damp towel if not using immediately – you don’t want the icing to dry out! – or immediately scoop into a freezer bag, snip one end, and pipe onto cookies.
Love it? Pin it!