This vegan gingerbread men recipe is perfect for the festive season as well as for anytime of the year, as they are just so cute and tasty. Kids of any age, will love decorating and personalizing their own wee gingerbread man.
This egg and dairy free gingerbread recipe creates a firm thick cookie that is deliciously soft inside. Gingerbread figures are perfect for gifts, party favours, buffets and pot lucks.
These old-fashioned gingerbread men have a simple but effective retro classic decoration with the addition of chopped raisins for the eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons. But of course, the tasty vegan gingerbread figures can be decorated however you like!
For a fun but inexpensive party or festive activity set up a gingerbread decoration station with a variety of different but simple decoration bits and easy water icing. Enjoy your creations with a nice hot chocolate and a favourite movie. Bliss!
Gingerbread men don't just have to be people shaped! Try gingerbread snowmen or snowwomen, dogs, mittens, Christmas trees, anything really! Use cookie cutters or simply a cutlery knife and your imagination.
Decorate the retro way with chopped raisins or score on a face, clothes, and other designs with a skewer or tooth pick.
Vegan fondant icing, water icing, melted chocolate, cake sprinkles and other decorations can be added after baking to produce unique gingerbread figures.
What are gingerbread men?
Gingerbread men are a baked good that is usually but not always flavoured with ginger spice powder, and in its most basic form is prepared with syrup or treacle, flour, water or milk, and perhaps some butter and eggs. The cookie or biscuit dough is formed into men, women, or small child shapes with either a cookie cutter or by hand with a cutlery knife.
Gingerbread men are a variation of gingerbread cake or gingerbread slabs that were baked during the medieval era. Do have a look at our old-fashioned gingerbread cookie recipe for more information on the history of gingerbread.
Queen Elizabeth the first [1533-1603] is credited with starting the trend of baking gingerbread people as she had her own self, and those of her guests, baked into gingerbread figures for them to enjoy!
A very old British tradition was for unmarried woman to eat a gingerbread husband at All-Hallows Eve or Halloween. This ritual was intended to help find an actual real-life husband! I don't see why gingerbread wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, or persons, can't also be baked. This could be a nice Valentines Day activity. In fact, another cute old tradition was for gentlemen to present gingerbread figures to their suitors.
Gingerbread in children stories
If you'd like to read the old-fashioned tale of the gingerbread man then its available to read for free over on Project Gutenberg. The book is titled The Little Gingerbread Man by Robert Gaston Herbert and was first published in 1910. However, do read the story through before reading it to young children to ensure that it is suitable for your family.
If the gingerbread man story from Gutenberg project is not displaying properly, [the text was overlapping with other text while I was reading it] then the same story can also be found here over on americanliterature.com.
How to prepare vegan gingerbread men
Preparing gingerbread men, people, snowmen, trees or anything really, is a fun activity. Decorating the wee figures is especially fun, and can be as elaborate as you like or simply a case of fashioning cute faces with fine chopped raisins or caraway seeds, which is the old-fashioned way.
A thick water icing [which is just powdered icing sugar mixed with a little water until its at a desired consistency for icing] is also a no-fuss decoration and the icing can be piped with a piping bag or just applied with a small spoon, knife or a flat lolly-pop stick.
First add the dark brown sugar, margarine and golden syrup [or light molasses] to a small saucepan.
Gently melt until smooth.
Add the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda [baking soda], ginger and cinnamon powder, and salt to a mixing bowl.
Pour the melted mixture into the flour mix.
Mix until a cookie dough is formed.
Pop the dough into the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill. This stage can be done a few days in advance.
Once chilled place the dough onto a floured surface.
Roll the dough and cut out gingerbread and other figures if liked.
Decorate little faces, buttons and other details with little pieces of chopped raisins. Gently place the raisins onto the cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and firm.
Small-medium gingerbread cookies will take 10 minutes and larger gingerbread figures will take 12 minutes.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray.
Cool completely on a wire rack before adding any more decorations such as icing.
Gingerbread men will store for up to 4-5 days within a covered cookie/cake/food tub or container. If storing for more than a few days wrap the biscuits in a layer of kitchen foil as this will maintain the gingerbreads texture. Store somewhere cool and dry.
Gingerbread men or figures can be frozen for 3-4 months, well wrapped. The raisin decoration is fine for freezing.
The gingerbread dough can be a little sticky or tacky after it has been prepared so chilling the gingerbread dough creates a dough that can be rolled and cut out much more easily. Ensuring the cookie dough is chilled before rolling out results in the best textured and shaped gingerbread figures.
Also, if the gingerbread dough has been worked a lot during rolling and cutting out, then its a good idea to stick the cookies along with the baking tray in the refrigerator. If kids are preparing the biscuits then they may like to knead and play with the dough so do chill for at least 20 minutes before baking if necessary.
A gingerbread decorating station is a fun activity for parties or just for some festive fun. Anything sweet or tasty that can be used to decorate cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, hot chocolates, etc can be included. Although perhaps do not include fresh fruit unless of course the biscuits will be eaten soon after decorating.
Enjoy your creations with a nice hot chocolate and stick on your favourite festive film. Its how happy memories are formed!
* water icing [powdered icing sugar and water] [can add various colours to dye the icing. If your in the UK, Lidl have vegan food dyes in the bakery section] [the water icing can also be used as a glue to stick other decor on]
* sifted powdered icing sugar [just sift it over the gingerbread]
* fondant style icing [Lidl have a packet of fondant icing that come in individual colours formed into little logs that are ready to roll. This product is labelled vegan. Use jam [whip the jam with a fork to make it easier to spread], or a little water to stick the fondant onto the gingerbread]
* melted chocolate [create little trousers by dipping the gingerbread men legs into the chocolate or use a small spoon to spread on to the cookies]
* vegan chocolate spread
* biscoff spread
* fruit jam
* peanut butter or seed butter
* raisins, currants, apricots, cranberries, dates, any dried fruit can be chopped small and used as decor, either before baking or after
* freeze dried fruit
* dried banana chips
* crystalized ginger
* crunchy breadsticks [those intended for dipping into dips or chocolate spread]
* small crackers
* desiccated coconut and coconut shards/flakes
* chopped nuts
* caraway seeds
* candied [glace] cherries
* candied chopped fruit peel
* small or chopped vegan sweeties/candy or cake decorations [the doizy and dam range have vegan type smarties, ballers which are like Maltesers, and chocolate covered peanuts] [other vegan friendly sweets include Jelly Tots, Millions [although do check the label as some flavours may not be], Candy Kittens, and Skittles]
* strawberry laces/pencils and similar sweeties [ Bebeto have a range of these types of sweets that are labelled vegan and tend to be relatively inexpensive. They can be found on Amazon UK as well]
* vegan chocolate drops/buttons/pieces
* roasted chickpeas/maize/peas [the type that you can buy ready-prepared as a snack]
* some types of breakfast cereal such as vegan friendly rice crispies/bubbles etc, either crushed or left whole
* crushed biscuits [such as lotus biscoff, bourbons, some flavours of Oreos, etc]
* vegan marshmallows either mini or chopped larger ones
* got some marzipan left over from decorating a Christmas cake? use some to decorate the gingerbread [Lidl UK has marzipan that is labelled vegan]
* vegan cake pens
A happy cute gingerbread family!
Baked gingerbread figures are soft inside but firm on the outside so are perfect for kids to create little edible play scenes.
More tasty vegan cookies or biscuits
These three cute gingerbread snowmen found themselves stuck within a Scottish powdered sugar blizzard!
Vegan Gingerbread Men
- Small saucepan
- baking trays/sheets
- parchment paper
- cookie/biscuit cutters [small-medium about 2-4 inch and large about 5-6 inch]
- 2 tablespoon raisins chopped into small pieces [or replace with sultanas/currants/dried cranberries etc]
- Melt the margarine, sugar and golden syrup together in the saucepan over a very low heat. Stir frequently and don't allow the mix to boil.200 grams golden syrup, 100 grams dark brown sugar, 160 grams vegan margarine
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon powders, into the mixing bowl.430 grams plain flour, 1 ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 tablespoon ginger powder, 2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Stir through the salt, and mix everything together.
- Pour and scrape the liquid mixture into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.
- Mix it all together into a cookie dough.
- Place the gingerbread dough, along with the mixing bowl, into the refrigerator to chill for about an hour. [This step can be done a day or so in advance but if storing the dough for more than a few hours then cover the mixing bowl or wrap the dough in food wrap.]
- Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 C / 356 Fahrenheit / Gas 4.
- Cover the baking trays with parchment paper.
- If using raisins for decoration, chop these into small pieces.2 tablespoon raisins
- Halve the cookie dough into 2 pieces as it will be easier to roll out. Keep one half in the chilled mixing bowl.Gently knead the dough for about 30 seconds.
- On a lightly floured board roll out the dough into about ¼ inch thick. Stamp out shapes with cookie or biscuit cutters.[thinner cookies will be crispier]
- Place the shapes onto the baking trays and leave about an inch between each biscuit,
- Decorate the biscuits with raisins, such as give the gingerbread figures eyes, noses and little happy smiles. A few raisin buttons are a cute addition. Don't press the raisins into the dough too hard, just place them on gently.
- If preparing gingerbread figures of different sizes then bake the larger ones together and the smaller ones together, so that they bake evenly.
- Bake small-medium sized cookies [about 3-4 inch long and about 2-3 inch at the widest part of the cookie cutter] for 10 minutes on the middle shelf.
- Bake larger gingerbread figures [about 5 ½-6 inch long and about 4 ½ inch wide] for 12 minutes on the middle oven shelf.
- For smaller or larger cookies just adjust the cooking times, or bake until the gingerbread has coloured and is firm to the touch. Don't press too hard as the cookies will be soft inside.
- If the gingerbread is baked longer it will be more crisp on the outside and if the dough is rolled out thinner they will bake up to a more crisp texture depending on the thinness rolled.
- Once baked leave for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to cool on a wire rack.
- Optional: Once cool the gingerbread can be decorated with a simple water icing [about 100grams/4 oz of sifted powdered icing sugar mixed with a few teaspoons of water until the consistency is what you like. This icing will set firm. The water icing can be prepared quite thick and then added to a piping bag or simply applied with a small teaspoon, knife or even a flat lolly-pop stick.Vegan food colours can be used to dye the prepared water icing [if your in the UK, these can be found in Lidl].The icing can be used as a tasty glue to stick on small pieces of vegan candy, sweeties or cake sprinkles, etc.Dipping the figures legs into melted chocolate will kit them out with little sweet trousers!
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not an exact calculation as ingredients can vary.
- Nutritional analysis does not include the optional raisins or any decoration.
- Store gingerbread cookies for up to 4-5 days, possibly a day or so longer if well wrapped.
- If storing for a few days the cookies will be fine in a cake or cookie tub/jar/display container.
- Wrap in kitchen foil if storing for longer, and keep somewhere cool and dry.
- Freeze un-iced gingerbread for 3-4 months, possibly a little longer. Iced gingerbread can also be frozen, but for best results its better to decorate after defrosting.
- If golden syrup is difficult to come by, use light molasses. A darker molasses can be used but the gingerbread will taste richer.
- For best results and easier rolling of the gingerbread dough, do chill the dough after preparing.
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Thanks so much! Jacq x