On the weekend, I made my first batch of Christmas cookies. I settled on the idea of gingerbread men (and stars) because I like the idea of making some for eating and some for decorating the tree. Like sugar cookies, the process of making gingerbread can take awhile. First you need to make the dough, then it needs to chill, then it has to be rolled out and cooled again, then you need to cut the shapes and bake them and finally after another cooling period you have to ice them. Seriously, at this point that last thing you want to see is another gingerbread man! The good thing is that you can do it all in steps. I made my dough about two weeks ago and placed it in the freezer. It keeps for about 3 months.
Have you ever wondered where the idea for making gingerbread men (and women) came from? One version of history suggests that Elizabeth I presented her courtiers with gingerbread likenesses of themselves. A novel idea! It is likely that they would have been decorated in gold leaf and other elaborate decorations. Of course, gingerbread is also very popular in Germany where houses, people and animals are made out of this dough. The tale of Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm was the inspiration for the popular gingerbread house.
If you want to use some as decorations, simply take a wooden skewer and gently press a hole into the top of the cookies and thread a ribbon through. I find it's easier to add the hole after they have been baked rather than before. (It's also a really good way to use up the ones that might have been left in the oven a bit long!) For the little scarf, I just cut up a piece of old ribbon I had left over from last year's presents.
If you'd like the recipe for these cookies head over to Renee's blog Eat.Live.Shop. where she has this one plus a whole bunch of other Christmas baking favorites submitted by other bloggers. Thanks for inviting me to participate, Renee! Oh and if you have small children in the house you might want to hang the gingerbread high up on the tree. The other day we caught wee Henry with a cookie in his hand all that remained was the tell-tale head left on the tree!