Cakespy: Gingerbread Mad Men Recipe


Quirky, cute, sometimes controversial, always delicious recipes from Jessie Oleson.

Cakespy: Gingerbread Mad Men Recipe

The perfect holiday cookie between Mad Men seasons.

Gingerbread Don. [Original artwork and photographs: Jessie Oleson]

They say you have to learn the rules before you break them. But is it ever possible to break them just a little bit while you learn them? Case in point: gingerbread men.

I haven't made enough of them to feel comfortable messing with the classic recipe but wanted to have a little fun with this batch nonetheless. The solution? Using a classic recipe—in this case, from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book—but decorating them as Gingerbread Mad Men, inspired by the characters in the AMC series.

Shaped to resemble man-about-town Don Draper, his repressed housewife Betty, and voluptuous secretary Joan, these spicy cookies have a depth of flavor as rich as the depth of these television characters. While this take on gingerbread did the trick, I'm sure any recipe will work—it's the martini glass and briefcase accessories that matter.


Gingerbread Betty.

Gingerbread Mad Men

  • Yield:24 to 36 cookies, depending on size


  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups dark molasses
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 5 1/2 cups flour (the original recipe called for 7 cups, but around 5 1/2 my mixer was clearly protesting so I left it at that--and they seemed fine)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. 1.

    Mix butter, sugar, and molasses thoroughly. Stir in water and mix until incorporated (it will be wet and strangely lumpy, but this goes away when you add the flour).

  2. 2.

    Sift together the flour and other remaining dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir into the wet mix a little at a time until fully incorporated. The mixture will be extremely thick. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap; let chill for at least two hours.

  3. 3.

    Heat the oven to 350°F. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on a (very lightly) floured board. Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut the cookies.

  4. 4.

    Make slight variations by hand to personalize them for Mad Men characters.

  5. 5.

    For the men: Gently shape the legs to be longer and flatter at the end, and stretch the arms a little bit. For the women: Be sure to flatten the fat middle part of the gingerbread men—after all, they are all shapely ladies. For Gingerbread Joan in particular, you might want to add a little beehive hairdo.

  6. 6.

    If desired, using a knife, cut out shapes for some Mad Men-style accessories: martini glasses, collins glasses, hats or briefcases, a cloud shape for a puff of cigarette smoke. Be sure to bake these smaller pieces on a separate tray because they won't need to bake as long.

  7. 7.

    Bake the large cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched lightly; bake the small accessory cookies for about 6 to 7 minutes. Let them cool completely before icing them.