Back in Action: Ninjabreadmen!
The holidays proved to be a healing time; I enjoyed a full week of relaxation back in New England with family and friends, and returned to the Heartland feeling better than I have in months. The Artistic Gentleman and I celebrated the dawn of the New Year together (with mimosas and freshly baked cinnamon rolls), and the next day put to use some new “Fred & Friends” brand cookie cutters I received as a Christmas present from my mom. The new cookie cutters (which joined my collection of dinosaurs, states, and other unusual shapes) are ninjas. That’s right: we baked ninjabreadmen.
Although gingerbread is traditionally iced with a confectioner’s sugar frosting, I opted for royal icing, which hardens when dry. The royal icing allowed for more flexibility in decoration, and also made the cookies stackable so I could take them to work and share with my coworkers.
For the cookies, we used this gingerbread recipe from the trusty website Joy of Baking, although I spiked the dough with 2 teaspoons of nocino (you could use vanilla or almond extract, too) for an extra flavor boost. If you prefer crispy gingerbread, roll the dough out to about 1/8″ thick, and watch it carefully in the oven so it doesn’t burn. If you like your gingerbread a little softer, roll the dough out to 1/4″ thick. Let the cookies cool completely before icing them.
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 Tbsp powdered egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract (I substituted nocino here, too!)
1/2 cup warm water
food coloring gels
Sift together the sugar and egg white powder. Add the vanilla extract and water and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Pour into individual, small bowls or ramekins and tint as desired. Royal icing hardens as it dries, so keep the bowls covered with plastic wrap. A spreading knife or small, offset spatula will allow you to quickly cover the entire surface of a cookie, while toothpicks are handy for adding detail. Let the icing harden completely before stacking cookies in an airtight container to store at room temperature.