These are such a winner with any small child, the smaller the child the more preparation needs to be done before they actually become involved. The mixture needs to be made in advance and left to chill in the fridge for at least an hour. This takes little time and can be done in a mixer. After setting, the dough only needs to be rolled and cut with a shaped cutter. This mixture is also great to use at Christmas, cut into star and heart shapes and decorated with writing icing.
When making a large batch – double quantity – the freezer is your friend. The colder the mix after cutting the easier it is to slide them on to the baking sheet. I stamped out the shapes, pulled away any excess that came off easily and put the men into the freezer to harden a bit before moving them to the baking tray.
Kids Activity for 10 to 12 kids – 3 year old to adults had fun
- A double batch of people – large and small
- Writing icing tubes in a selection of colours
- Royal icing – in assorted colours in zip lock bags – corner cut off for piping
- Bag of Smarties
- Bag assorted lollies
- Pair of scissors (cutting lollies to shape, cutting corners of zip lock bags)
- Napkins – for each person to decorate their person on
The only rule – must show parents when finished and get someone to eat it before making another one.
Makes about 16 men, depending on how thick they are made.
- 125 g butter, softened
- ½ cup Capilano Honey & Ginger (**see substitute)
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 ½ cups plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- (**or ½ cup golden syrup, ¼ tsp salt, 1½ tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ tsp white pepper, ¼ tsp allspice – this is quite strong but it needs to be because when cooked it is dissipated)
- Mixed fruit and nuts to decorate – or mixed lollies for the unhealthy version, to go overboard use writing icing to decorate
Next time try rolling out using the pasta machine – keep thickness consistent and work a lot faster so wouldn’t need so much cooling.
- Beat softened butter, Honey & Ginger (or golden syrup), molasses and dark brown sugar together in a medium bowl until creamy. Add egg yolk and beat well.
- Mix flour and bicarb (and spices if using) together and add slowly to mixture until combined. Turn out the mixture on to a large piece of baking paper and gather up into 2 balls, knead each lightly, then flatten and roll into rounds, about 1 cm thick. Fold baking paper over each and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- One disc at a time – leaving the mix in the baking paper roll out to 3-5 mm thick, stamp out the shapes and place on to a board (still in baking paper) and chill for another hour.
- Preheat oven to 170ºC and line 2 trays with baking paper.
- Slide the chilled cut shapes from the to the trays using a thin bladed knife and bake for 6 minutes, then turn the trays and bake for another 4 minutes until firm to touch. Leave on the trays to cool enough to handle then move the people to a rack to cool completely.
- Re-roll all scraps to make more shapes, chilling (the freezer is faster) between cutting and moving.
- Decorate with lollies, dried fruit and nuts (half cashews make great smiley mouths but watch for nut allergies when you are going to be sharing), even little balls of mixture added before baking can make buttons or eyes.
- For completely OTT decoration writing icing, or home-made royal icing can be piped on and can keep children (and adults) amused for even longer.
- We wrapped each in a small plastic bag and stored in the freezer.