I make gingerbread every year, partly because the little gingerbread men are so cute and partly because they are so delicious with pumpkin dip (recipe at the bottom). Yet every year I manage to lose the gingerbread recipe or forget which recipe I used before. I do remember that last year I used a mix from Williams-Sonoma that I would NOT recommend, as well as a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens (I think). But this year I wanted to try another vintage recipe, this one from the New York Times cookbook — all the recipes published in the NYT between 1950 and 1960.
You’re going to need some shortening for this one. And molasses.
Something else to keep in mind before you heat up the oven: You’ll need to chill this dough for a while. Like three hours or so. Maybe enough time to finish up your last-minute shopping?
I separated this into two balls of dough, but you will probably want to work with it in quarters.
The dough was really soft and difficult to work with at first, but it was much easier to deal with after I put a little more flour on the mat I was using to roll it out. And, of course, you don’t HAVE to make gingerbread men. You could make gingerbread women. Or bears. Whatever floats your boat.
Gingerbread men (Makes 3-4 dozen cookies. Adapted from the 1961 edition of the New York Times Cookbook)
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cream shortening, brown sugar, spices and salt together in a large bowl or stand mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and blend well.
Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together, then sift the mixture again. Add to the molasses mixture and mix until blended. Divide dough into two or four balls, flatten balls slightly and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
Roll a quarter of the dough out to one-eighth inch or slightly thicker on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter* to cut gingerbread men out of dough. Carefully transfer gingerbread men to the cookie sheets, leave about an inch in between. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes. When done, let cookies rest for two minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in an air-tight container.
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened (it doesn’t have to be room temperature, but should be soft enough to blend)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
Using a hand-held mixer or spoon, mix all ingredients together until smooth. Serve with gingerbread men. Refrigerate leftovers.