Chai Spice Cutouts are lighter in color than gingerbread men and feature dark speckles from the tea.
Chai Spice Cutouts are lighter in color than gingerbread men and feature dark speckles from the tea. (Mel Barber — mbarber@yorkdispatch.com)

It's a holiday fact that you will eat a million-billion gingerbread men between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don't question how it's possible; just accept that it will happen.

If you want your gingerbread men to stand out, it's time to go off book and try something different. How about chai?

These Chai Spice Cutouts (Chai Spice Girls in the original Better Homes & Gardens recipe) add a savory, spicy kick to the typical cookie sweetness. They also have a cute freckled appearance.

Chai Spice Cutouts

2 spiced chai-flavored tea bags

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1½ cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp. molasses

1. Remove the tea bag contents (about 3 teaspoons) and discard the bags. In a medium bowl, combine tea, flour and pumpkin pie spice and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy.

3. Beat in egg yolks and molasses. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can. Dough will be thick. Stir in remaining flour by hand if necessary.

4. Divide dough in half, cover and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until it's easy to handle.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to ¼-inch thickness. Cut dough with cookie cutters.

7. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

8. Optionally, decorate the cookies with icing.

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The original Better Homes & Gardens recipe uses 4-inch gingerbread girl cookie cutters, which turns out 18 to 20 cookies. If you're substituting with smaller cookie cutters as I did, you'll get about five dozen cookies and you'll want to cut down the baking time to 9 to 10 minutes.

If you're icing your cookies, store them in layers between waxed paper in an airtight container. They'll stay fresh at room temperature for three days or can be frozen for three months.

-- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.