Gli Omini di pan di zenzero della Vigilia

Eccoci qui giunti all'amata o temuta Vigilia di Natale.. oggi è giornata di preparativi, per mettere a posto la casa, cucinare (io ho in programma il coniglio al civet e il pane per il pranzo di domani), impacchettare gli ultimi regali e, per quanto mi riguarda, confezionare i regalini mangerecci (così non perderanno, si spera, la loro fragranza). Lo so che ho lesinato in materia, non lasciandovi molte ricette a tema, ma non volevo che gli amici più cari vedessero on-line cosa avrebbero ricevuto come strenna natalizia, invece che avere la giusta e meritata sorpresa.

Ma oggi posso svelare almeno il primo mistero di Fatima, riguardante i dolcissimi e tenerissimi Omini di pan di zenzero (alias Gingerbread men), che tanto mi ricordano Zenzy di Shrek. Certo, non sono un dolcino della nostra tradizione, ma a me questi biscotti speziati piacciono da morire, e trovo che odorino di inverno, di calore casalingo, di Natale. Inoltre, una volta decorati (se pur molto semplicemente, nel mio caso) con la glassa, diventano davvero teneri e simpatici, che quasi manca loro solo la parola.


(ricetta di Giallo Zafferano)

Ingredienti (per circa 120 piccoli omini)

Per i biscotti

* 350 g di farina 00

* 160 g di zucchero

* 1 pizzico di sale

* 1 cucchiaino raso di bicarbonato

* 2 cucchiaini rasi di cannella in polvere

* 1/2 cucchiaino di chiodi di garofano in polvere

* 1/4 di cucchiaino di noce moscata in polvere

* 2 cucchiaini rasi di zenzero in polvere

* 150 g di burro

* 150 g di miele

* 1 uovo

Per la glassa (opzionale)

* 1 albume

* 200 g di zucchero a velo

* qualche goccia di succo di limone

* coloranti per alimenti (opzionale)


Setacciate la farina e ponetela nel bicchiere del mixer; aggiungete lo zucchero, le spezie (io le ho sostituite con un mix di spezie per dolci greci, e ho poi aggiunto ancora dello zenzero), il bicarbonato e, infine, il burro freddo tagliato a cubetti. Aggiungete poi il miele e azionate il mixer, finché non otterrete un composto bricioloso; aggiungete ora l'uovo e mixate ancora per un attimo, finché non avrete ottenuto una palla.

Avvolgete l'impasto nella pellicola per alimenti e mettetelo a riposare in frigorifero per almeno un'ora.

Pre-riscaldate il forno a 180°C.

Trascorso questo tempo, stendete su un piano infarinato l'impasto con un mattarello in una sfoglia molto sottile (circa 2-3 mm). Ricavate quindi le forme da voi desiderate (io ho scelto dei piccoli omini), mettete i biscotti su una teglia antiaderente (o su una teglia coperta di carta da forno) e cuoceteli in forno caldo per 10-12 minuti. Calibrate i tempi di cottura in base al vostro forno, tenendo conto che i biscotti devono risultare dorati, ma non scurire troppo.

Fateli raffreddare su una gratella e, una volta freddi, potrete decidere se decorarli oppure no. Io ho fatto una semplicissima glassa con albume d'uovo montato a neve fermissima, a cui ho aggiunto zucchero a velo e qualche goccia di limone. Ho poi diviso la glassa in tre parti, una lasciata bianca, una colorata di rosa e una di verdino, e ho effettuato con una siringa una semplicissima decorazione (occhi, bocca e tre bottoncini) sui miei omini, così da renderli simili all'omino di pan di zenzero tradizionale (anche se un po' più basic rispetto a quello di Shrek).

Si conservano a lungo in una scatola di latta e, secondo me, sono bellissimi se sistemati in piedi in sacchettini trasparenti, a formare un piccolo esercito di omini di pan di zenzero (io ho scelto, infatti, di impacchettarli così).

Vi auguro di trascorrere una serena Vigilia, che per molti, me compresa, trascorrerà in cucina e poi intorno ad una tavola. Rimando a domani i miei auguri "definitivi", per il momento ecco gli auguri di uno dei miei omini.


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