1cup(2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, browned then brought back to room temperature
1cupdark brown sugar, packed
1large egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
For the Icing:
1cupconfectioners' sugar, sifted
3teaspoonswarm water, more if needed
Food coloring, optional
For the Brown Butter Gingerbread Cookies:
In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger; whisk well and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in both sugars and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. In a small bowl combine the hot water, baking soda, and molasses; stir with a fork until the baking soda has completely dissolved. Add this mixture to the butter mixer and beat on low speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients in several additions, beating just until combined. Gently scrape the dough out onto a work surface (it will be a little sticky and crumbly) and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
When you're ready to bake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Divide the chilled dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll one half of the dough out to a thickness of 1/8", lightly flouring the surface and dough as needed. Using a gingerbread cookie cutter, cut out as many gingerbread men as possible. Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until the tops are set. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with all cookie dough. Once the gingerbread men have cooled completely, decorate them with icing and sprinkles, if desired.
For the Icing:
In a medium-sized bowl combine the confectioners' sugar, warm water, salt, and food coloring (if using); whisk well. If the icing appears to thin to hold its shape, add a little more confectioners' sugar; if the icing appears a little to thick to easily pipe, add a little more hot water. You can play around here until you reach your preferred consistency. Pour the icing into a piping bottle or simple spread it on top of the cookies.
The amount of gingerbread men this recipe will yield depends on the size of your cookie cutter. If you're using very small cookie cutters, decrease the bake time by 2 minutes.