When Lori asked me to contribute a holiday favorite to her 'Good Cheer' series, I didn't have to think twice about what I wanted to share! These chocolate gingerbread men and I go way back. I first discovered the recipe in high school and it became my standby teacher gift. Present the history department with a tray of these fellows and boom, a guaranteed an A+ on the winter exam.
Okay, maybe these treats are more likely to guarantee good graces than good grades. In any case, the learning curve on this recipe is a cinch. It yields cookies that are moist and chewy with just the right balance of warm cocoa, zesty spice, and rich molasses. The dough holds its shape well if you're inclined to cut out shapes as I've done, or if you really want a strong hit of chocolate you can stir in a full bag of semisweet chips and make drop cookies.
Finally, I recommend making a double batch and freezing the extra dough. You may not have any exams in your near future, but you can never be too prepared for a baking emergency!
Chocolate Gingerbread Men
(adapted from The All-American Cookie Book)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each ground ginger and ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp each ground cloves and salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup each white and brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugars in a smaller bowl, then add molasses, egg, and orange zest and blend thoroughly. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until fully incorporated. Let dough sit for at least ten minutes to firm up. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness on parchment paper and cut shapes, decorating with chocolate chips as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, or until edges are just barely brown.
— Anne of The City Sage