Tis the season to RSVP, don your favorite sequin dress or sharp suit, and toast the holiday season – just like these funny gingerbread folk!
I got the idea for these after taste-testing a few spirit-filled chocolates. I love all kinds of things in miniature and I found the teensy foil-wrapped bottles amusing. I began planning a cocktail party in miniature. All I needed were some guests, so I whipped up a batch of chocolate gingerbread cookies and my favorite meringue icing.
I think this recipe will be fun for Christmas cookie parties, but it would also be pretty cute for ringing in the New Year, don’t you think? (Cheers!)
I used a 5-inch cookie cutter (like this one) so the bottles would be in nearly perfect proportion to their little hands. I also had a bow cutter from a different set of gingerbread cutters (similar here), so I cut a few pieces to use as bow ties and hair bows.
I free-handed most of the icing designs on the cookies, so I don’t have a good template to share. The ‘suit’ clothing for the male gingerbread folk was piped almost the same way each time, so I took some step pictures if you’d like to duplicate it. The clothing for the lady gingerbread folk was varied with each cookie.
The final step is to plop a large dot of icing on each of the gingerbread folks’ hands and place chocolate bottles on top. They’ll need to stay stationary for about 1 hour so the icing can harden. You can leave the bottles wrapped (the candies pull of easily) or if you like surprises, then you can unwrap them all before placing them on the cookies.
The spirit filled bottles are rich and chocolaty and just a smidge boozy – but not too much!
I tried to make a gingerbread person in the likeness of myself (above), but she turned out looking more like Britney Spears wearing Hammer pants. Oh well! I’ve been known to take a fashion risk or two in my day (smile). I also made sure she had the Borghetti (espresso) flavored bottle, because coffee is my BFF.
This is such a good basic chocolate gingerbread recipe, and I implore you not to skip any of the spices in the ingredients list. The cookies taste deeply of molasses and spices; the chocolate is a note that lingers in the background.
Edit 2016: Chocolates liqueurs can be purchased online, but I saw some similar chocolate bottles at Costco!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
- gingerbread folk cookie cutters
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup meringue powder
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract or other clear extract
For the Cocktail Party Gingerbread Folk:
- 20 foil-wrapped bottle shaped spirit-filled chocolates
- Make the cookies: Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the softened butter with the shortening at medium speed until the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg to the cookie batter and beat until incorporated. Beat in the molasses and then the melted bittersweet chocolate. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating between additions. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each piece out between two large pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper to approximately 1/4 inch thickness. Transfer the rolled dough (still covered between sheets of paper) to a large cookie sheet and chill both pieces in the refrigerator until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Cover two large baking sheets with parchment. Using a 5-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into gingerbread folk shapes and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll the dough scraps and cut out more cookies.
- Bake the cookies for about 7-10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
- Make the royal icing: Place the meringue powder and cold water in a mixing bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Add the extract and beat until the icing is thick and smooth. Icing can be thinned with water 1 tablespoon at a time if it’s too thick for piping. Transfer the icing to a large piping bag fitted with a plain decorator tip (small size, usually #1 or #2 for writing).
- Use the icing to pipe faces, fancy clothes and hairdos onto the cooled cookies (use a stick pin to spread the frosting for fine detail work, such as the gentlemen’s’ mustaches and the ladies’ lips). To adhere the chocolate bottles onto the cookies, place a generous dot of icing on the hand of a gingerbread folk. Press a bottle (wrapped or unwrapped – your choice) into the icing and let stand for 1 hour, or until the icing is dry. Half (about 10) of my gingerbread party folk held ‘drinks’ and the other half just mingled without.