Earlier in the fall, the boys and I were out shopping when we ran across some cookie cutters called Ninjabread Men (Amazon affiliate link). I immediately thought of making Christmas ornaments out of them! The boys were thrilled with the idea.
We modified our salt dough recipe and added gingerbread spices.
Step 1: Mix up the dough and cut out the ninjas.
Salt Dough Recipe:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3/4 cup water
1 T oil
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Or whatever smells good to you!
The Ninjabread Men cookie cutters are fabulous! They look like metal, but they are actually flexible plastic. They were very easy to use and the dough slid right off. Even Owen (age 4) was able to cut out his ninjas himself and they looked perfect. I can see lots of cookie making in our future!
Look at all that karate chop action!
Step 2: Bake. We baked our ninjas for 3 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
I flipped them over a couple times while baking. Then, I let them sit for another 24 hours before we painted them. After they came out of the oven, they were lighter in color than I would have liked. The photo below shows how the back came out darker than the front. Without sugar and butter in the recipe like normal gingerbread cookies would have, the dough doesn’t brown in the oven. (You could use regular gingerbread dough, but I think they would be less durable than salt dough.)
Step 3: Decorate
I thought about trying the recipe again with more spices, but I think that it would have taken a LOT more spices to get the color I wanted, and I was worried about the expense. After some web surfing, I decided to paint them, as that seemed the best way to get the correct “cookie” look.
I mixed brown acrylic paint with a little yellow acrylic paint (about 1/5 yellow and 4/5 brown) and then watered down the paint significantly. I wanted a light coating of paint that will still show through the texture of the dough. The boys had no interest in helping with this step, but it went quickly with the watered down paint, and the look was just what I wanted. I painted both sides, and the color is much more uniform from front to back.
Then, we were ready to paint on the “icing!” For this step, I purchased some higher quality acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby because the cheapest acrylic paint is too runny to look like icing. I also bought a pack of squeeze bottles. The squeeze bottles were in the paint aisle for $3.49 for a pack of 3, and they said on the package that they were intended for lettering. I was SO glad that we got them – we never could have achieved the same look with a brush.
Aidan (age 10) was the only one who was old enough to do the icing part. You have to be able to squeeze evenly while moving the bottle along at a steady pace. The little boys did not mind at all that I had to paint them, and they love the finished product!
Step 4: Spray with clear coat for added durability. Glue on a ribbon for hanging.
The clear coat spray ruins the lovely gingerbread smell, but with all the little hands in my house, I thought we needed the extra durability! If you’re going to spray them, you could just leave out the spices. However, I’d recommend still using the spices because the dough smelled SO nice while baking and because the spices make the dough look more like real gingerbread cookies.
The finished ninjabread men!
We’re planning to use our extras as gifts. So fun!