Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies

Gingerbread men on baking sheet

Making cut-out cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions, so I was thrilled to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for Gingerbread Men.

These delightful molasses and spice cookies are decorated with raisins or currants, and are a little thicker and chewier than some gingerbread cookies. They’d be lovely on a holiday cookie tray.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Gingerbread Men
Source: Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. II) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr (1920)

The caption under the illustration in the old textbook says, “Some suggestions to please the children.” Today Gingerbread Men often are topped with lots of colorful icing, and very sweet. Would children in 2020 be pleased by Gingerbread Men decorated with only raisins or currants? My gut feeling is that many today wouldn’t fully appreciateΒ  this old-time flavorful, healthier option – and would miss the icing. Which is a pity. The Gingerbread Men were wonderful.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Gingerbread Men Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 18 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups flour

raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 375Β° F. Put shortening, brown sugar, egg, and molasses in mixing bowl; mix together. Add baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and flour; stir to combine. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness. (If too sticky to roll, add more flour.) Cut into shapes using a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter. Put on prepared baking sheet. Raisins or currants may be used for eyes, mouth, and buttons. (Cut raisins into several pieces if they are too large.) Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

37 thoughts on “Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies

  1. I’ve never seen an iced gingerbread man. Well, maybe a thin line of icing to indicate a smile, and little dots of black icing to indicate eyes and buttons. But iced? That’s sacrilege!

        1. The thickness of the dough and the amount of baking soda/baking powder also affect the how crisp or chewy the cookies are. This recipe indicates that the dough should be rolled to 1/4 inch thickness, which is thicker than some recipes. And, there is enough leavening in the dough to make the cookies puff up a little when they are baked.

  2. This looks very similar to the Joy of Cooking recipe I always used. I never iced the gingerbread men. Raisins were required. The biggest question was what part to bite off first.

  3. Yum! I love naked gingerbread men! My husband hated raisins & currents so I use dried cranberries or bits of dried cherries… I’m going to make cookies next weekend so this is perfect timing!

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