Monday I decided it would be super cool if I could bake pirate gingerbread men for my 5th grade reading class. They’re basically just like normal gingerbread men, but you break off legs (or arms or heads) and use Popsicle sticks to make “pegs”. Then we could have a writing assignment where you: 1) Name your pirate, 2) Tell how he lost his arm(s)/leg(s)/head, and 3) write about if he likes being a pirate. This was easier conceived than accomplished.
First off, it was WAY hard to find a gingerbread man cookie cutter. I thought that grocery stores would have them as part of their Christmas display, but no luck. The nearby cooking-utensil-selling store didn’t have them either, and neither did Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We finally found one at Michael’s that is actually made of silicone and supposed to be for making small, gingerbread man shaped pancakes, but it worked just as well.
I decided to use this recipe from Baking Bites, my favorite baking website, but, as always, my approach was more haphazard so my results are not quite as intended.
First I attempted to assemble the ingredients:
That was when I realized that I’d forgotten to buy cloves, one of the key spice ingredients along with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. BUT I discovered that we did have pumpkin pie spice, which is just a mixture of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and all spice, so I recklessly decided to substitute it for all four spices. BAKING WITHOUT BORDERS!
In other news, molasses…
Seriously, I don’t know what else I am going to use this bottle of it for. I may have to make like fifty batches of pirate gingerbread men just to use it up. Or pour it on Steven when he sleeps in till 3pm…
So whether it was a Too Much Molasses (I am also haphazard about measuring) dilemma or a You Can’t Really Substitute Spices Like That problem, the dough ended up being darker than advertised:
Steven was actually convinced it was chocolate even after licking the beater. He was a little disappointed.
Luckily, the lemon frosting turned out amazing, just as promised! I mean, maybe because it only had two ingredients, but still. Frosting magic time!
The no head one is also a class act.
Overall, my kids came up with some pretty creative pirate characters. Including the usual “cannon accident” or “shark attack” or “fighting with other pirates”. My personal favorite was from one girl who named hers “Peggy the Pirate. He says he lost his leg in a fight, but I think he’s just clumsy. He’s always falling down and stuff. Don’t tell him I said that.” Happy times!