I am utterly inexplicably absolutely completely head-over-heels in love with these cookies.
Can we just take a second to acknowledge how exciting it is to finally get into holiday baking?! It’s one of my favorite parts of the season. I feel like every kind of cookie is appropriate and necessary at this time of year. I mean, milk and cookies…Santa… duh. Plus, every cookie is the perfect companion to a warm mug of hot cocoa. Am I right or amirite?!
Growing up, I wasn’t really a fan of eating gingerbread man cookies. I was obsessed with the book, The Gingerbread Man, though. When I was 3 and didn’t know how to read yet, I made my grandma read me the story over and over again until I had it memorized. Once I did, I told her that I wanted to read her the book. She was so impressed when I recited it. Basically, I tricked her into thinking I knew how to read. She found out the truth when she tested me on another book, though.
My grandma loved gingerbread men. We used to bake them all the time together, and for that reason, I loved them too. I adored the ritual. I loved to make the dough and play around with it. I loved to steal some when she wasn’t looking. I remember thinking how heavy the rolling pin was. I could barely lift it up. Rolling out the dough literally knocked the life out of me because I was such a tiny human.
She used to get mad at me because I would hit my hand on the flour on the table so that it would puff up into the air in a huge cloud. I thought I was hilarious. Then she would dip her hand into the flour and tap me on the nose. “Christina, the White-Nosed Reindeer!” So many giggles.
Then came the decorating. That was my absolute favorite part. I always wanted the pink icing, and I insisted that we only make gingerbread women. Yes, I’ve been a hardcore feminist for as long as I can remember.
I’ve always been really bad at decorating gingerbread people, though. Dealing with icing is so precise. Nonetheless, we made a party out of it.
As much fun as I had baking and decorating the cookies with my grandma, they always turned out hard as a rock. I love that woman, may she rest in peace, but she had a knack for overcooking/burning pretty much everything. A trait she passed onto my mother, as well.
So I was never really into eating them. I thought I was going to break my teeth. And because they were overcooked, they tasted kind of bland anyways. I would eat them, though, just to please her.
It took me quite awhile to try gingerbread cookies from another source, and when I did, I was like… Okay, okay. Pretty good. Nothing life-changing, but yummy. And very seasonal, so obviously I’m on board. However, I still kept running into the problem of the cookies not being soft enough. I like a chewy cookie. A chewy, rich cookie. I wasn’t getting that from most gingerbread men.
Here is my twist on the gingerbread man. You can make the cookie sandwiches, or you can just make regular cookies without the filling. You can use a gingerbread cookie cutter, you can use a different shape, or you can make them regular circular if you don’t have a cookie cutter! Whatever you want. They’ll still taste fabulous, no matter what shape they’re in.
These gingerbread men are perfectly moist and chewy. They’re not hard and stiff. At all. Texture is on point. They’re like the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but not chocolate chip. You know what I mean?
Then, let’s get onto the flavor. These bad boys PACK A PUNCH. I won’t lie, they’re rich. Which I love. If you assemble the entire cookie sandwich, you’ve got a dense dessert. In the best way possible. My sister and I were eating them warm with a fork. Like cake.
So you’ve got two layers of rich, soft, chewy, gingerbread goodness sandwiching a warm, sweet, gooey filling. If regular gingerbread is too zingy for you, the filling really helps balance it out. Takes the edge off. Brings the ginger zap down a bit, but adds a deeper, heavier flavor. It’s honestly divine.
You could also just use the filling as a topping if you want. I have an addiction to cookie sandwiches, though, so I couldn’t help myself. The filling is a coconut butter base, of course. Do I do anything without coconut butter? It’s so delicious, thick, and creamy.
Whenever I have sugar, I always try to pair it with protein and/or fat. That helps blunt the insulin spike from the sugar you’re consuming, and as I’ve explained before, you want balanced blood sugar. Healthy fats comin’ in clutch, once again. So not only does the filling add a rich, decadent layer of yumminess to the treat, but it also makes your bod happier.
These are extremely simple and quick. You don’t need to make ’em look fancy. They’re also super fun to make, especially if you do the full gingerbread-man-sandwich version. Using a cookie cutter is a magical experience. And rolling out the dough, playin’ around with the flour… Perf bonding activity for friends. 🙂
Other reason I’m super proud of these? NO REFINED SUGAR. You don’t need it. Molasses and maple syrup add more than enough sweetness, and these cookies won’t leave you feelin’ like crap afterward. Even with my ultra sensitive stomach, I literally ate 14 of these in one sitting (wouldn’t recommend that though, because then you gotta make another batch….) and had no stomach issues at all. That’s basically unheard of for me because I’m so sugar-sensitive.
Refined-sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, paleo, vegan…EVERYTHING. Make ’em for your family, make ’em for your friends, and make ’em for Santa. Even he will be impressed. I mean, these aren’t just your regular gingerbread men! They’re so much more. Plus, you get to avoid the frustrating decorating-with-icing process, and disguise any sub-par decorating skills with fancy cookie-sandwich-making skills.
Paleo / Vegan Gingerbread Men Cookie Sandwiches
Makes: 14 cookies
Time: 30 minutes
- 2 1/4 cups almond flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup dark maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat your oven to 350*F. Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil.
- Mix all of the cookie ingredients together in a large bowl.
- When the dough is formed, add a thin layer of gluten-free flour (I used arrowroot) to a large surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it’s about 1/2 an inch thick. Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter, or any other cookie cutter, to cut out gingerbread man-shaped cookies.
- Add the cookies to the cookie sheet, spread about an inch apart from each other. After you use up as much of the dough as you can, smash the leftover dough into a ball, roll it out, and repeat the process again until you’ve used up almost all of the dough.
- If you don’t want to make actual gingerbread men, you can just make regular cookies with your hands by ripping off pieces of the dough and making circular cookies about 1/2 an inch thick.
- Place the cookies in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the edges look slightly browned. They should rise a little bit and they might look slightly undercooked, but they’ll keep cooking and harden more when you take them out. After the cookies are done, allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.
- While the cookies are in the oven, make the frosting. If your coconut butter is hard, place it in the microwave in a microwave-safe container for about 20 seconds to melt it.
- Add all of the filling ingredients into a small bowl and mix them together until everything is well-combined.
- To assemble the cookie sandwiches, use a knife to spread some of the filling onto the underside of a gingerbread man. You can make it as thick or as thin as you want! Then place another gingerbread man on top, with the flat side facing the filling, and repeat with more cookies!
- You can also use the filling as a frosting and top the gingerbread men with the filling, or you can just eat the gingerbread men plain.
- EAT AND ENJOY!
I hope you enjoy these gingerbread men as much as I do. If you make them, be sure to tag me (@addicted_to_lovely) in your photo! Aaaaand I want to know…What’s your favorite holiday treat?!