Is it even the Christmas holiday without baking gingerbread cookies? It is definitely the iconic cookie for me during the holidays, and I never skip a classic cookie for the holidays. The past five years I have baked Sugar Topped Molasses Spiced Cookies, but this year I went with this childhood classic. I wanted comfort, and I wanted to feel like it was the holidays.
We are having a hard time with the holiday season this year. While last year was not ideal with the pandemic happening, we actually had a pretty fantastic holiday season. Everyone felt sorry for us that we were “alone” but we had so much fun. It was the first time we had ever had both holidays as a couple at our home. We went all out from decorating to cooking and eating. Even my holiday shopping was different last year, I had time to put a lot of thought into gifts, wrapping each one perfectly and shipping off big boxes to everyone.
This year we are feeling the crunch of having to travel for the holidays during a pandemic with Covid very much alive. We decorated but not like last year, more simply. And, I did something I hate doing, I ordered gifts and had them shipped from the vendors. We are just going through the holiday motions without the joy we felt last year. Last week, I really needed to try to capture the holiday bliss I love so I baked a few cookies, even though I had planned not to this year.
In the past I have used a Better Homes and Garden recipe for my gingerbread cookies, but last year will all the extra time on my hands, I tried out a few different recipes I found online. While they were okay, there was either something missing or the dough did not work out well. Some of the recipes I found online had so much ginger or sugar that we could barely enjoy them. Not all ginger is created equally, some can be rather bland or carry a lot of punch. Since molasses is added as well as sugar, there is no need for an extra amount of brown sugar to be added, it just creates a sticky dough that is hard to work with.
I basically took what I loved from my usual holiday ginger cookie and created a dough that was rollable for cutting out. The balance of ginger along with the additional spices is perfect. The secret ingredient is a hint of black pepper which really brings all the warm holidays spices together. I learned this from Dorie Greenspan recipes!
Last year, I started baking in grams. Not sure why I didn’t do this sooner as it is so much easier and there is less mess to clean up. I am slowly converting all my recipes over.
- Do not skip the addition of pepper, it really brings all the other spices together, creating a perfectly seasoned gingerbread.
- Divide the dough into four discs. The more you touch and roll out cookie dough the drier it will become and will start cracking. I try not to re-roll to much.
- Rolling out the dough, if it starts to crack around the edges a little, just pinch together and gently roll. I like to use a French style rolling pin and it tends to work the dough more the center to the edges more evenly.
- I use a 3″ inch cookie cutter if the one you are using is small or bigger the cooking time may need to be adjusted.
- As well, ovens tend to run different temperatures, as well as hotter or colder in spots. You might need to rotate your baking sheet half way through.
- If you do not have a baking scale and are using cups and teaspoons, make sure you level each measurement using a knife. Do not use heaping cups or teaspoons.
- A gingerbread cookie should be softer as well as cut out into a shape. The longer you bake the cookies the crispier they will be which is more of a gingersnap cookie. I like my gingerbread cookies to be somewhere between so 8 minutes baking a 3″ cookie is perfect.
More Holiday Cookie Recipes
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour - 516 grams
- 1 teaspoon baking soda - 6 grams
- 1/4 teaspoon salt - .5 grams
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger - 4 grams
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice -2 grams
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves - .5 grams
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace - .5 grams
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature - 170 grams
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar - 110 grams
- 2/3 cup molasses (unsulphured) - 214 grams
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract - 7 grams
- royal icing for decorating - make half of the recipe for lightly decorating
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, allspice, cloves, mace and pepper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute until creamy.
Add the brown sugar and beat on medium speed combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Next add the molasses and mix together on medium speed until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix for 1 minute on medium speed. The mixture may look slightly curdled, this is okay and it will come together.
Add the flour the the butter mixture and mix until combined. The dough will be come together away from the sides and will be thick, and not sticky.
Divide the dough into quarters, pat into disks, and wrap in waxed paper.
Chill the dough for at least an hour. You can also chill overnight but bring to room temperature (about 30 - 45 minutes) before attempting to roll out.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place about 1/4 cup of flour into a small bowl for dipping the cookie cutter.
Lightly flour a work surface, I like to use a large marble pastry board when working with cookie dough.
Gently roll out one disc at a time until 1/4" thick.
Dip the cookie cutter into the flour and cut the dough.
Place the cookies about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.
Re-roll the dough and continue cutting out. Repeat the process with the remaining discs of dough.
Bake the cookies for 8 - 9 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, before placing onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.
Cookies will keep for about 7 days, in a cookie jar or covered with foil on a serving plate.
When lightly decorating these cookies use half of the Royal Icing Recipe using vanilla instead of the usual orange blossom water.