Last summer, I bought ninja shaped cookies cutters. I have since been waiting and waiting and waiting for it to be gingerbread season so I could make the coveted ninja-bread-men. As in, gingerbread men shaped like ninjas. If you are not ridiculously excited right now, then I just have to say it-- we can't be friends. But, I guess I'll also state that this recipe does not exclusively work for ninja shaped cookies, and if you wanted to make non-ninja gingerbread men (or ladies), then I suppose that would be acceptable.
To ice these, I used royal icing for the first time. Since I was a first-timer, I used Wilton's recipe. I found I needed to add 3-4 more tablespoons of water than it called for in order to make it pipe-able, and also that it dries so candy-like that it fell off the cookies very easily. However, it piped on well and made for good detailed decoration. Anyone with royal/detailed icing tips, I'll gladly take them!!
If you are looking for your own ninja cookie cutters, I believe they sell them on amazon.com. I got mine at a boutique near my house, but I know I've seen them all over the internet. Just google ninjabread men. They look like this:
That being said, without further ado, I give you, my recipe for Ninjabread Men! This recipe is one I pulled out of my mom's recipe box and tweaked a little. (I played with it to make them a little more chewy). I do not know it's origin, only that it's labeled "Ft. Wayne." I'm guessing this means my mom got it when she lived in Fr. Wayne, but, you know, your guess is really as good as mine. The cookies bake up firm, but with a soft texture.
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)
Gingerbread Men (or Ninjabread Men) (Yield - about 4 dozen 3 inch ninjas)
1.5 cup molasses
3/4 cup shortening
4.5 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1.5 teaspoons powdered ginger
1.5 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Step #1 - Preheat oven to 350* F.
Step #2- Beat together the eggs, molasses and shortening until smooth.
Step #3 - In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
Step #4 - Add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time into the molasses mixture. When all of it is added, the dough should be firm, but slightly sticky.
Step #5 - Cover dough and let it chill for at least 1 hour.
Step #6 - Roll out the dough on a well floured surface until it is approximately a quarter inch thick, then use a well floured cookie cutter to cut out your shapes. You may need to knead in a little extra flour in as you start, as the dough may be sticky. You want the dough to feel like playdough.
Step #7 - Place cutouts on a well greased or parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes. Baking time depends on the shape you use, so you'll want to watch your first batch to decide how long yours will take. Cookies are done when they are set and have small cracks in the top. Do not wait for them to look brown, as the dough is so dark, they will not 'turn brown' until they are burnt.
Step #8 - Allow cookies to fully cool and then decorate with your favorite icing and decorations. As I stated above, I tried my hand at royal icing for the first time, since I wanted a lot of detail. Royal icing dries hard like candy, so it won't smear/smoosh they way butter cream will. I followed the design on the picture that came with my ninja cookie cutters to determine my designs.