Gingerbread men and pumpkin dip

I know the holidays are technically over… but since most of the U.S. is buried under a thick blanket of snow and we’re not even a full week into January, I think it’s still perfectly acceptable to eat some gingerbread men with pumpkin dip.

shortening and brown sugar molasses

These gingerbread men are pretty easy to make — though you do have to take the time to roll them out and cut them into shapes, obviously — and they have a nice blend of spices without being too sweet. Plus, unlike many gingerbread cookies, they’re soft.


making gingerbread dough

The cookies are made with shortening instead of butter, which makes them tender without any butter flavor competing with the molasses and spices. You can cook them a little longer than I did if you want them to be a bit more firm, but they will stay soft (and the spices even develop a bit) for at least a week if you keep them in an airtight container.

gingerbread dough rolling out

Gingerbread men are one of my favorite Christmas cookies, but there’s really no reason they have to be confined to December, right? Especially since they travel so well — they’re a great option when sending care packages overseas.

cutting gingerbread men

Also a good choice: Ninjabread men.

ninjabread

Pumpkin dip doesn’t travel quite as well, sadly, but it is totally worth it anyway. I would recommend it even if you just buy some gingerbread men: The mix of spices work together perfectly.

pumpkin pumpkin dip ingredients

Plus, you’ve got to be sick of pumpkin spice lattes by this point, right?

gingerbread men and pumpkin dip

Gingerbread men with pumpkin dip (Cookies adapted from an old version of the New York Times cookbook, pumpkin dip recipe from my mom)
Cookies (makes 3-4 dozen small-ish cookies)
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream shortening, brown sugar, spices and salt together in a large bowl or stand mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and blend well.

Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together, then sift the mixture again. Add to the molasses mixture and mix until blended. Divide dough into two balls, flatten balls slightly and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Roll half of the dough out to one-eighth inch or slightly thicker on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Use a cookie cutter* to cut gingerbread men out of dough. Carefully transfer gingerbread men to the cookie sheets, leave about an inch in between. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes, or until they just look cooked in the center. Let the cookies rest for two minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in an air-tight container.

Pumpkin dip
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened (it doesn’t have to be room temperature, but should be soft enough to blend)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Using a hand-held mixer or spoon, mix all ingredients together until smooth. Serve with gingerbread men. Refrigerate leftovers.

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