Isn't he cute?
You know you want to make some. Let me show you how.
All credit goes to my mother-in-law. Without her recipe, and buttons, and cookie cutters, and beads, and scraps of fabric, and hot glue gun...well, let's just say I didn't own anything I needed to make these.
Start with one cup of cinnamon. Yes, a cup. I highly recommend you buy your cinnamon for these little guys from a co-op or farmer's market, where it will be considerably cheaper than buying McCormick. I don't even want to think about how much these guys could have cost. I got this cinnamon at a farmer's market in Virginia and it worked perfectly.
Add 1 tablespoon nutmeg. Or maybe this one is ginger.
Add 1 tablespoon of ginger. Or nutmeg. Whichever one you didn't add already. Mix the spices up real nice.
The best part: add 2 tablespoons of good old Elmer's glue.
Finally, add 1 cup of cold applesauce. Stir everything together into a yummy-smelling paste.
Note of caution: The dough smells delicious but do not taste it. I repeat, do not taste it. It does not taste good.
Place a sheet of foil down and plop some of the dough on it. Use wax paper over top so the dough doesn't stick to your rolling pin. This part it kind of tricky because the gingerbread men will pick up any creases in the foil or wax paper. I ended up re-rolling this after I took a picture of it. Also, make sure you keep the dough pretty thick. My first couple men were really thin and they don't look so hot. The thick ones look much nicer.
Use your mother-in-law's cookie cutters (or your own) to cut out the gingerbread men. Or you can do whatever shapes you want. My mom had gingerbread men and hearts on her tree while I was growing up.
I placed my men on parchment paper because I was afraid they would stick on a cookie sheet. I tested it out to make sure: they did, but not too bad. Use a toothpick to make holes so you can hang them. My MIL had beads that I used for eyes and a nose. And man oh man, was that part ever a pain. Make sure you stick the beads in there pretty far, too, otherwise they can fall out.
Also, if you're a real perfectionist you can clean up the edges. See on mine how there are little crumblies around them? You can scrape them off when they're dry, too.
Let the men dry for 24 hours, turning over periodically so they don't curl up. If you want, you can stick them in a low-temperature oven for the first couple hours, turning every 30 minutes or so. This is when I had my curling problems. Make sure you turn them fairly often, although if they're thick enough you shouldn't have too much of a problem. During this time make sure your toothpick holes don't close up.
I made this one. I just hot-glued on the buttons and tied on a little scrap of fabric for a scarf. They really help fill in those black holes in the tree I was talking about.
One of Darren's.
I love them. They did take a long time to make so I might just do one batch a year. One batch is enough fun for me. We ended up with about 16 or so but like I said, some of them were pretty thin so if you do thicker ones you'll end up with less.