At work, one of my bosses is allergic to gluten. So I try to work with her and get some gluten-free items made. The other day she brought me some gluten-free flour. Since it’s close to the holidays, I decided to make gluten-free gingerbread men. It was my first time I had ever worked with the stuff. It’s just like flour. To the feel it is a little grainier than normal flour, but the cookies taste just like any other gingerbread cookie. Plus they are so soft and chewy! I am not a huge ginger fan, but these are top of the line when it comes to ginger cookies.
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum, unless your flour already has it ( mine didn’t, and I didn’t have any on me, so I just doubled the baking soda)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 TBS unsalted butter, at room temp.
4 TBS unsulphured molasses (I didn’t have molasses, so I used honey)
1 TBS honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, line and rim the baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar and whisk again to combine, working out any lumps. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, molasses, honey, egg and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will be thick and sticky.
- Mix the dry ingredients separate from the liquid, then put the liquid in the well that you make.
- Make sure you can cream your butter. DO NOT melt it. I had to dump my first batch because I used melted butter and the cookies turned into what looked like a fruit roll up.
3. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of unbleached parchment paper, cover with another sheet of parchment and roll into a rectangle about 3/8-inch thick (more than 1/4-inch, less than 1/2-inch). Once it is rolled out, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. Once you take it back out, pull the top sheet off and get your cookie cutter ready. You can dip your cutter in the gluten-free flour or corn starch and start punching out those little men. Then place them on a lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- To verify that the dough has firmed up, you should be able to pull the top sheet off without anything sticking to it.
- Like sugar cookies, it needs to firm up in the fridge. I know being patient for cookies is annoying, but it must be done.
4. Once the dough has chilled, peel back the rest of the dough around the cutouts and gather the scraps. I used a pie scraper to get my gingerbread men separated. Then carefully peel off the cut out shapes and place them, about 1 1/2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet (they become fat, so give them space or they will start eating each other). Repeat the process with the remaining dough until you have used it all.
- This is the part where you have to have fast fingers. This dough softens quickly. That’s why I used the pie scraper. This way, you can just slide it underneath and peel the trimming off and place the gingerbread men on the cookie sheet. One of my men lost an arm in the process.
5. Place the now cut out gingerbread men back into the freezer for another 10 minutes. This will help them keep their shape during baking. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. After the cookies are cooled, you can decorate them.
So in the end, these gluten-free gingerbread men taste like any other cookie. I do have to cop to something though – my gingerbread men turned into obese gingerbread men. So I did a little trick: I recut out my gingerbread men after they cooked. If your men turn out too fat and you decide to do the same trick, make sure you recut them before they fully cool, but don’t separate the thin cookie from the fat cookie until it is fully cooled or they will fall apart. This is the most flavorful gluten-free cookie I have ever tasted, even without frosting. Each batch makes roughly a dozen gingerbread men. You just have to keep rolling out and recutting. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can just make round cookies. I say a cookie is a cookie no matter the shape.