The fun of making a gingerbread man (or woman, of course) is directly related to how easy the task is and how long it takes. A complicated recipe that requires the dough to be refrigerated before it can be rolled slows down the momentum of the activity. This recipe is simple to mix and can be rolled and cut into cookie shapes immediately. The recipe makes about three dozen 4-inch cookies, and double that amount if you’re making tiny 2-inch gingerbread men. Enhance the activity, while the cookies bake, by reading the story of the gingerbread man who runs away.
Sift the flour together with the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and place in a large bowl. Set this mixture aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Place the brown sugar, shortening and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix thoroughly and then heat in the microwave until the ingredients are melted together. Remove from the microwave and stir again.
Mix the melted ingredients, while they are still warm, into the flour mixture. Stir until the mixture turns into dough that holds together when you pinch off a piece.
Prepare the surface on which you will roll out the cookies by sprinkling it with flour. Then roll out 1/4 of the dough (for each batch) until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use the cookie cutters to cut out the gingerbread men. Use a spatula to lift them onto a cookie sheet you have prepared with cooking spray. Leave several inches between each cookie.
Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 14 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. They will be slightly browned on the bottom when done.
Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them cool on baking racks. Remove the cookies from the cookie sheets with a spatula and set them on waxed paper. Sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar if you like.
- The hot liquid mixture from the microwave needs to be handled by adults, as do the cookie sheets when they come out of the oven.