Pirate Gingerbread Men

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.

This guy lost his legs in a bet over a heated game of Blokus.

This guy lost his legs in a bet over a heated game of Blokus.

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:

Ingredients team: ASSEMBLE!!

Ingredients team: ASSEMBLE!!

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…

... kind of looks like tar

... kind of looks like tar

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:

I know, it totally looks like I was making chocolate cookies. Sadly, I was not

I know, it totally looks like I was making chocolate cookies. Sadly, I was not

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!

Food Lion brand ziplock bags: for the discerning baker who has no money

Food Lion brand ziplock bags: for the discerning baker who has no money

And once you draw clothes on ONE gingerbread man, the rest look naked

And once you draw clothes on ONE gingerbread man, the rest look naked

The one in the upper left corner is my favorite. He means serious business

The one in the upper left corner is my favorite. He means serious business

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!

2 Responses to “Pirate Gingerbread Men”

  1. Uncle Bill says:

    Wow! This is better than the food channel! Really got me thinking about molasses, too.

    “Because of its unusual properties, molasses has several uses beyond that of a straightforward food additive. It can be used as the base material for fermentation into rum, and as the carbon source for in situ remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons. Also, it can be used as a minor component of mortar for brickwork.[6]

    It can be used as a chelating agent to remove rust where a rusted part stays a few weeks in a mixture of 1 part molasses and 10 parts water.

    In Australia, molasses is fermented to produce ethanol for use as an alternative fuel in motor vehicles, and is also used to treat burns.[7]

    Molasses is added to some brands of tobacco used for smoking through a Middle Eastern water pipe (e.g., hookah, shisha, narghile, etc.). It is mixed into the tobacco along with glycerine and flavorings; sometimes it is used along with honey and other syrups or fully substituted by them. Brands that use molasses include Al Fakher, Soex and Tangiers.”

    Thanks Wikipedia!

    Now the molasses does not have to be wasted!

  2. Uncle Bill says:

    Any chance those pirates were from the East Indies?

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