I am aggressively resisting the cultural expectation to use gendered language with these cookies. Will it cost me in SEO ranking? SURE. Do I care more about crushing the patriarchy than my page rank on Google? DUH.
This year, bake gender-nonconforming human-shaped cookies! I’ve swapped the traditional ginger flavoring for something a bit spicier, using Mexican stoneground chocolate and a pinch of chili powder. Bending the arms around foil “props” while baking allows you to make the finished cookies carry candy gifts, but let’s be honest: that is an entirely unnecessary step. Bake the cookies flat, pipe on some icing, and CALL 👏IT 👏A 👏DAY 👏
Yield: ~60 3.5-inch tall cookies, ¼ inch thick
4 ounces Mexican Chocolate (70% dark)
2 ½ cups AP Flour (plus more for rolling out cookies)
½ cup Cocoa Powder
2 tablespoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves
¼ teaspoon Ancho Chile Powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
¾ cup Butter, room temp
⅔ cup Packed Brown Sugar
⅓ cup White Sugar
½ cup Golden Syrup
Tin Foil, shaped into cylinders and cubes (same size as candies)
Royal Icing for decorating (Recipe follows)
Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, chile powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Continue to beat while adding the golden syrup, whip until incorporated. Add egg, beat to combine, then add melted chocolate and continue beating on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
Transfer the dough to a flat surface and flatten into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours, or up to 5 days.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the chilled dough into four equal quarters, leaving three quarters in the refrigerator. Flour a flat work surface (be generous) and roll out one piece of dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Using a 3 ½–inch gingerbread person cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Gather all the dough scraps into a ball, reroll, cut, and repeat until no more cookies can be cut.
Shape tin foil scraps into shapes roughly the same size as the candy you’ll use to decorate the cookies. Spray each shape with cooking spray. Alternately/additionally, spray chopsticks with cooking spray to use as place-holders for candy canes.
Working carefully and quickly, place the foil shapes onto your cookies and gently mold/lift the cookie hands to look as if they’re holding the package/gift/chopstick. Press the dough into the chopsticks/foil shapes if necessary, being wary that you’ll have to peel these away once the cookies are baked.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until slightly raised. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing the foil/chopstick props.
Using a spatula, remove the cookies from the cookie sheets, transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Repeat steps 17-21 until dough is used up.
Once cookies are cool, use frosting to decorate as desired. Use additional frosting to adhere candy “gifts” or candy canes to the cookies. Candies that work especially well for these cookies: caramels (cubes), starlight mints (cylinders), Rolo, cinnamon bears, gumdrops, and candy canes.
2 large egg whites or 5 tablespoons meringue powder
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Food coloring, if desired
With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice or extract until frothy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, smooth, and shiny. Turn to high and beat approximately 5 minutes till stiff and glossy. Add food coloring, if desired, and transfer to a pastry bag to pipe onto cookies.