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Crystallized Ginger Gingerbread People

Servings: 3-4 dozen

Ingredients:

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger* (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime or orange zest, optional
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

Decorating Icing:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons lime, orange or lemon juice, at room temperature
Crystallized ginger cut into 1/8-inch bits, optional

*Crystallized ginger, also called candied ginger, can be found at specialty food markets or online at gingerpeople.com. Look for slices or chunks of crystallized ginger that are soft.

Cooking Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients; set aside.

Place crystallized ginger in a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse to coarsely chop. Add brown sugar and zest, and process until ginger is finely chopped and incorporated into the sugar.

Combine butter and sugar-ginger mixture in a bowl; cream together until light and fluffy. Add molasses; beat to combine. Add egg; beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and mix to combine. Divide dough into 2 equal portions and drop onto large sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten into disks about one inch thick and wrap tightly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or butter the sheets. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface, 1 portion at a time (keep remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8- to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut into shapes. Place one inch apart on baking sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Cool cookies on pan for about 8 minutes. Transfer directly onto a wire rack to cool completely. Re-roll dough scraps and cut out more cookies.

To make icing, combine butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, gradually adding juice until the desired consistency. Decorate completely cooled cookies as desired using small bits of candied ginger for eyes and buttons.

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