Friday, December 13, 2013

Gingerbread Men Sandwich Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are a must for Christmas and I make some version of them every year. So this year when I saw the idea of making them into sandwich cookies, I couldn't resist. I made sandwiches out of gingerbread men, stars and trees, because I like to party. The cookies are soft and flavorful, made with molasses, cinnamon and of course, ginger. The filling is perfect for sandwich cookies, creamy and sweet, and has the perfect texture to combine cookies without oozing out the sides like messy frosting. I really need to make more sandwich cookies--they are fun and you can get away with eating two cookies and frosting but look like your only having one.

The idea and cookie recipe comes from In Katrina's Kitchen but I swapped the filling to a version from King Arthur Flour. I didn't really change much about either, although I did chill the cookie dough overnight. The dough rolls out nicely and didn't need a ton of extra flour to keep from sticking to the dough mat or the rolling pin. I skipped the royal icing for the final decorations since I happened to have a bottle of Wilton's Cookie Icing on hand, but reel free to use whatever gingerbread decorating icing you would normally use to decorate your gingerbread cookies. I've used this royal icing before. However you make these gingerbread sandwich cookies--men, stars, trees, bears; decorated all out or simply--they'll be fun, festive and delicious.

Gingerbread Men Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients for the cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand held mixer, beat butter until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

Beat in egg, molasses and vanilla until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt.

Gradually add flour to butter mixture, stirring in on low speed until flour is just combined.

Turn dough out to a clean counter or dough mat. Gather to a smooth ball. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a flattened disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Remove one dough disc from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll to about 3/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Using desired cookie cutters, cut cookies and arrange on parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. Chill cookies on sheet in freezer for 5-10 minutes.

Remove from freezer and place in a 375 degree F oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn baking sheet 180 degrees halfway through. If using more than one sheet at a time, rotate positions in the oven for more even baking.

Remove from oven and cool on pans for a 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

While the cookies cool, prepare the filling.

Ingredients for filling

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2-4 teaspoons water 

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand held mixer, beat shortening and powdered sugar, adding vanilla and salt. Continue beating until mixture starts to clump together.

Continue beating, adding water one teaspoon at a time until consistency is smooth. The filling should be stiff but malleable, like a firm Play-doh.

Pair cookies of similar size and shape. Roll a 3/4 to 1 inch ball of filling and place it between two cookies. Press cookies together to flatten and spread filling to a thin layer. Note: I found if I shaped my dough into an oval, it spread to the edges of the men and trees a little better. For the stars, I used my fingers to push the filling towards the points, then put the other star on top and pressed them together the spread a little more.

Arrange filled cookies on a wire rack with waxed paper or a flexible cutting mat underneath. Decorate with royal icing or bottled cookie icing as desired.

Makes about 6 dozen individual cookies or 3 dozen sandwiches, depending on cutter size.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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