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Crystallized Ginger Gingerbread People

Crystallized Ginger Gingerbread PeopleEveryone loves gingerbread for the holidays, especially taste-tempting little gingerbread boys and girls! This creative recipe uses crystallized ginger, also known as candied ginger.

Recipe Ingredients:

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger* (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime or orange zest, optional
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

Decorating Icing:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons lime, orange or lemon juice, at room temperature
Crystallized ginger cut into 1/8-inch bits, optional

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients; set aside.
  2. Place crystallized ginger in a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse to coarsely chop. Add brown sugar and zest, and process until ginger is finely chopped and incorporated into the sugar.
  3. Combine butter and sugar-ginger mixture in a bowl; cream together until light and fluffy. Add molasses; beat to combine. Add egg; beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and mix to combine. Divide dough into 2 equal portions and drop onto large sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten into disks about one inch thick and wrap tightly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or butter the sheets. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface, 1 portion at a time (keep remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shapes. Place one inch apart on baking sheets.
  5. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Cool cookies on pan for about 8 minutes. Transfer directly onto a wire rack to cool completely. Re-roll dough scraps and cut out more cookies.
  6. To make icing, combine butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, gradually adding juice until the desired consistency. Decorate completely cooled cookies as desired using small bits of candied ginger for eyes and buttons.

Makes about 3 1/3 to 4 dozen.

*Crystallized ginger, also called candied ginger, can be found at specialty food markets or online at gingerpeople.com. Look for slices or chunks of crystallized ginger that are soft.

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.