I’m a huge fan of gingerbread, and once the weather turns cooler, I can’t stop thinking about it. Of course we’re still months from Christmas, so I decided to make spooky gingerbread men for Halloween. That’s two great things in one! They’re just as delicious as their tamer, less macabre counterparts, and they make great decorations. Spooky gingerbread men are also a fun surprise because no one really expects gingerbread at Halloween. Of course I’m on a mission to change that!
You can use any gingerbread cookie recipe you like, but here’s an easy recipe adapted from The Joy Of Cooking, in case you don’t already have a favorite.
How to make spooky gingerbread men:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
Sift together three times:
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2-3 teaspoons ginger, depending upon how spicy you like your cookies
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in about three additions, alternating with 1/4 cup of water. Mix until thoroughly blended after each addition:
Next, roll-out half of the dough onto a piece of parchment paper to about 3/8″ – 1/4″ thickness. I have no idea why I didn’t think to use parchment paper years ago because it completely revolutionizes the cookie process. With the parchment paper, the spooky gingerbread men easily transfer to the baking trays, and the only extra flour required is for the rolling pin.
Using a cookie cutter or a paper template, cut as many gingerbread men as you can from the dough you rolled-out. Set the cut-offs to the side:
Next, start cutting-off limbs, partially-severing necks, and creating gaping wounds:
You can also square-off the heads to make Frankenstein’s monster. Transfer cookies to a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving about 1/2″ between them. Repeat this process for the second half of the dough, then press all of the cut-offs together, roll-out, and repeat.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or longer, depending upon thickness. The cookies should spring-back when pressed and look slightly brown at the edges when fully cooked.
Decorating spooky gingerbread men:
This is the really fun part where you can be as creative and ghoulish as you like.
Allow the cookies to cool completely before adding icing decorations.
In a small bowl mix about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with a tiny bit of water. Start with one teaspoon, mix, then repeat until the mixture will just barely hold soft peaks. This will be your white icing. Arrange the baked cookies on a surface for decorating.
Tip: red icing might stain certain counters (why I’m using a cutting board).
In a very small bowl mix about two tablespoons of powdered sugar with a few drops of water. Add red food coloring until you get the color you want. Add more water or powdered sugar as necessary to get a slightly runny consistency. This will make it easier to get realistic-looking drips of blood.
Next, take a pastry bag, or a plastic bag with the corner cut off, fill it with the white icing, and start decorating your spooky gingerbread men as you would normally:
Then use a toothpick to add red blood details. Try smearing a bit across the ‘wound’ then using the toothpick to draw droplets down from it:
You can make them as ghoulish as you like…this is Halloween, after all:
On a related topic, if you’re wondering about the different types of molasses out there, click here for an informative article about molasses vs. blackstrap molasses.
Have fun unleashing your inner ghoul and enjoy this tasty Halloween treat.
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