I know it feels a bit early for Christmas posts, but frankly it is my job to inspire you and I think that part of having a successful holiday is preparation. A late night baking session on December 19th can exhaust anyone, so I propose that you bake a few key items ahead of time in the quiet of November and then freeze them. You and I will both be happy when we pull our homemade cookies out of the freezer, weeks from now, and all we have to do is decorate them.
Today I am spotlighting my grandmother's gingerbread men. Her men always looked just like this (a cookie from my tree last year) and hung all over her Christmas tree. We were allowed to take one off of the tree to eat every time we visited her house in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I loved it! She also made a ladder out of gingerbread that she leaned against the trunk. It was to help the elves reach the branches!
Nama's tried and true recipe (one that I myself have used for 21 years) is Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake & Cookie Mix. Yes, a box mix. Trust me, these cookies always come out perfectly. Specific instructions are on the side of the box - simply add a bit of water, flour and melted butter to the contents of the package and mix well with an electric mixer. Roll dough out on floured surface. I recommend baking on parchment paper for easy release. Allow the cookies to cool and then freeze in Ziploc freezer bags or Tupperware containers, with waxed paper or parchment paper arranged between each layer.
If you aren't going to freeze them, then leave the gingerbread men uncovered for a few days to dry out before tying a ribbon around their necks.
When you are ready to decorate your gingerbread men (after they have defrosted or after a few days of drying out), make "glue" by mixing 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and a few drops of hot water. Attach chocolate chip eyes and buttons with a dab of "glue"and then attach a "red hot" candy for his mouth. Tie a ribbon around his neck and then slip an ornament hook into the ribbon and hang on the tree. Adorable!
My gingerbread men are quite popular (both eaten off the tree and on cookie platters) and to give myself a head start, I made 5 boxes worth of gingerbread men yesterday. I burned an entire tray, so I was glad that I had made extras. They are already in my freezer and I feel great. We will put up our Christmas tree on November 29 and by December 1st I should be having Gingerbread Men with my coffee in the morning. Happy Holidays!