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Ginger-kids grow into a tradition.

Family traditions abound during the holidays. Over the years, favorite Sunset recipes have become part of holiday celebrations in many Western homes. One of those classics is our Gingerbread People, first published in Sunset's December 1965 issue. Since then, thanks to readers who've revitalized the cookies every Christmas, the jaunty cookies have kept pace with the times.

Give these cutups whatever character you like. Start by making the cookie cutter, then shape the dough and decorate with frosting. We give two versions of the dough: the first is our original dark, spicy version; the other makes a lighter-colored cookie that shows up better on the tree.

These cookies can hang on a tree for up to several days, in a dry place for several weeks. (Trees give off moisture, which may soften and weaken cookies.) Or give them as gifts; covered with plastic wrap, they last about a week.

Making the cutter

You need a permanent felt-tip marker or china marker; a ruler; a piece of 6-inch-wide, 37-inch-long aluminum roof flashing (available at hardware stores and lumberyards); work gloves; tin snips or old scissors; tracing paper; a pencil; a large nail; and masking tape.

With the marker, draw a line to mark off a 1-inch-wide strip the full length of the aluminum. Wearing gloves, cut the strip with tin snips or an old pair of scissors (step 1, below). For extra safety (especially if children will be helping), cover sharp edges of aluminum with masking tape.

Trace the pattern on this page, then bend strip as shown in step 3. Overlap ends where they join, and secure with tape; cut off extra metal. Refine shape; to make sharp loops, such as the thumb detail, bend the strip around the nail.

Gingerbread People

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon each salt, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground ginger

1 1/3 cups light molasses

2/3 cup apple juice or water

About 8 cups all-purpose flour

Purchased ornamental frosting, in tubes

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar, soda, salt, and spices until creamy. Add molasses and juice; mix until blended. Stir in enough flour (about 7 1/2 cups) to make a stiff dough. Cover tightly; chill at least 2 hours, or up to 4 days.

Roll out part of the dough at a time on a floured board to a thickness of 3/16 inch (keep remaining dough covered). Cut out cookies (step 4); with cutter still in place, use a wide spatula to transfer each cookie and cutter to a lightly greased 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Lift off the cutter. Place 1 cookie (or 2, widely spaced) on a sheet.

Adjust arms and legs to customize the figures. Use a sharp knife, scissors, or mat cutter to cut details--a hat or helmet, a skirt or scarf--from scraps of dough rolled to about 1/8 inch thick. For shirts or pants, use the appropriate part of the cutter as a pattern. For hair, press bits of dough through a garlic press. For even browning, the cookie--with all details in place--should be no thicker than 3/8 inch at any point.

Attach details as shown in step 5. To make a hole for hanging, use a drinking straw to pierce a hole about 3/8 inch below the top of each cookie.

Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until firm and lightly browned on edges, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet about 10 minutes, then transfer with a wide spatula to racks to cool completely. Decorate with frosting (step 6); let dry.

Store cookies in a single layer on trays or heavy cardboard covered with plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months. Makes about 16 cookies (3 1/2 to 4 oz. each).

To hang the cookies, thread a piece of ribbon or yarn through the hole in each and tie to form a loop.

Per cookie: 376 cal.; 6.1 g protein; 6 g fat (3.4 g sat.); 74 g carbo.; 291 mg sodium; 15 mg chol.

Golden Nutmeg People Cookies

Look for golden syrup in markets that sell specialty foods. Or substitute light corn syrup.

Follow directions for gingerbread people, preceding, omitting all-spice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and molasses. Into the creamed mixture, beat 1 tablespoon each ground nutmeg and vanilla. Then mix in 1 1/3 cups (16-oz. can) golden syrup or light corn syrup.

Per cookie: 390 cal.; 6.1 g protein; 6.1 g fat (3.5 g sat.); 77 g carbo.; 304 mg sodium; 15 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Best of the Holidays; recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:790
Previous Article:Cookies for any occasion.
Next Article:Gifts for or from a cook.
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