3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Sugar Cookie Icing, for decorating
Sprinkles, for decorating
In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and molasses until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking soda, and salt until combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until dough just comes together. (Do not overmix!)
Divide dough in half and create two discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll until 1/4″ thick. Cut out gingerbread men with a 3″ wide cutter and transfer to baking sheets.
Bake until slightly puffed and set, 9 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie cutters. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Decorate with icing and sprinkles as desired.
An Excerpt from The Little White Christmas Lie
FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME
Carson went to the kitchen with every intention of spilling his story to his family, but the only person he found was his grandmother. She had her gray hair tied up in a ribbon, an apron over her jeans and sweater, and a welcoming smile on her face. She held out her arms for a hug as soon as Carson walked in.
He gathered her against him, inhaling her warm scent. She always smelled of vanilla with a touch of cinnamon.
“You know Millie and I aren’t engaged, right?” Carson pulled away from her.
“Of course, darling.” She turned back to her rolling pin and dough on the counter. “I had rather hoped, of course…but it did seem too good to be true.” She flashed him a quick smile and a wink. “Did she tell you I had called her?”
After Carson nodded she said, “Why don’t you tell me what really happened?”
Carson took a seat at the kitchen table and watched his grandmother use a cookie cutter on the dough while he filled her in.
After he’d finished, she said, “And now, what are we going to tell everyone else?”
Carson blinked. “We’re going to tell them exactly what I just told you.”
His grandmother tsked her tongue. “No. That’s boring. We need a story.”
“I think Millie would prefer boring honesty,” Carson said.
Using a spatula, his grandmother carefully transported a freshly cut gingerbread man from the counter to a parchment-covered baking sheet. “I don’t believe that for one second,” she said. “Have you even read any of her books?”
“Granny, I’m not really her target audience.”
“And why not?” She pinned him with her stare.
He lifted his shoulder. “If things work out, I promise I’ll read one of her books.”
His grandmother banged her cookie cutter on the counter. “You’re doing it all backwards. You have to read the book first!” Sighing and shaking her head, she returned to her cookies. “It’s a wonder you ever made it through school.”
“Romance novels weren’t required reading in the business program.”
“Pity that.” With her back stiff and straight, she moved a few more gingerbread men to the pan.
“Granny…” It occurred to him that his grandmother might be distracting him by talking about Millie so that they didn’t have to talk about the inn’s dismal finances.
She cast him a sly look. “And what do you mean ‘if things work out’? Could it be that you’ve finally met your match?”
Carson flushed, and his shirt suddenly seemed itchy and too tight. He pulled at his collar. “I just…”
“Have I ever told you about the first time I saw your grandfather? Our eyes met and the whole world seemed to freeze and fade like a black and white photograph.”
Although Carson had heard the story many times, he didn’t stop her. He loved his grandparents, and he longed for a marriage like theirs. Besides, he didn’t want to talk about Millie. He just wanted to be with her.
“He looked so handsome in his uniform,” his grandmother continued. “We were at the train station. I was heading for New York City and cooking school, and he was off for training in Fort Dix.” She sighed. “I miss him every day.”
Carson stood, wrapped his arms around his grandmother, and kissed the top of her head. “I do, too, Grandma.”
She leaned against him. “I just don’t understand why your sister has been so unlucky in love.”
“Jackson’s a good man.”
“And your father…”
“Also a good man.”
“But not a prudent one.”
“He’s gone now, Grandma.”
“Don’t I know it,” his grandmother sighed.
Carson wanted to talk about his dad less than he wanted to talk about anything. “Let’s talk about the inn. I noticed all the rooms are full.”
She perked up. “Yes, I invited everyone I know for the Twelve Nights of Christmas.”
“You invited…you mean, none of the guests are actual guests?”
“Of course they’re actual guests!” She huffed.
“Is anyone paying?”
He swallowed a groan. “You invited your friends…”
“Yes,” she said, defiance ringing in her voice. “It will be a lovely holiday season.” She slid a glance at him. “I even got you to come home, didn’t I?”
He opened his mouth to deliver a lecture, but she cut him off. “There’s going to be sleigh rides, a cookie exchange, a toy drive for the homeless shelter, a singalong, a craft fair, and a reenactment of the Nativity.”
“And who’s paying for all this?”
She kept her back to him. “None of this is going to cost a dime.”
“Granny! Who’s paying for the cookies? The hot chocolate? Don’t tell me you planned on inviting the town and everyone you know without feeding them something.”
She spun around to face him, holding the rolling pin aloft. The look on her face told him that she wanted to smack him with it.
“I know the date,” Carson said through clenched teeth, “but do you understand that you have to live within the budget I created for you?”
She tilted her head to the side. “There are so many lonely people out there. And the children in the shelter—don’t you think that they’d like to see Jed’s camels?”
“Camels? Jed? Who’s Jed?”
“Jed Forester. He bought the Nelsons’ farm and opened up a camel ranch. Did you know that camel’s milk is considered a power food? He ships his camel milk products all over the world! It’s really something. He uses the milk to make shampoo, face cream, lip balm—”
“What do the camels have to do with the inn?”
“Well the wise men are going to be riding them, of course.”
“Of course.” Carson took a deep breath, feeling particularly unwise.