I previously posted a gingerbread cookie recipe here at GAGF. However, over the years, I’ve realized that the more I make this specific recipe the less I like it.
First of all I think the recipe above lacks enough molasses and I wasn’t getting the spices perfect. Secondly, while it can turn out softer, chewier cookies, if you mess up and leave said cookies in the oven for a few seconds too long, you’re sunk. Also, if you want to get into aesthetics, the color of these cookies is not great. All-in-all, somewhere along the way I decided I hated this recipe - sorry if you made them and felt the same way.
That said, I’ve been working on it, and I’ve come up with a gingerbread cookie recipe that’s not only much tastier but gorgeous in color. Best of all, these cookies stay soft. I HATE crispy gingerbread cookies. While you can make thinner, crunchier gingerbread with this recipe if you like, it’s also the perfect dough for softer, more chewy cookies.
Bonus, the dough is extremely easy to work with; not stiff or sticky at all.
- These are soft – so they need to be cooled 100% before you stack them or decorate them or they can bend.
- Harder to glaze than typical crisper gingerbread.
- I had a few break while decorating them – mainly with cookies I glazed or cookies with small points – i.e. snowflakes. They’re a bit more fragile than other gingerbread cookies I’ve made. I suggest making a little more dough than you think you need.
Gather the following ingredients – this makes about 3-4 dozen average sized cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose organic flour – don’t use bread flour!
- 3/4 packed cup organic brown sugar – dark brown would be best, but the other day, all I could find was normal organic brown sugar at my local store. I used it, and it was just fine. Organic brown sugar tends to run darker than conventional anyhow.
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 sticks organic butter, slightly softened – salted, unsalted, whatever you’ve got on hand. I’ve used both.
- 3/4 cup Fair Trade, organic molasses – I’ve heard all about mild vs. robust molasses, but I’m not a chef genius, so I couldn’t tell you the difference. I use Wholesomes Sweetners – Organic Molasses.
- 2 tablespoons organic milk – Use any milk you like – whole, 2%, soy. The point is to help add some liquid quality to the dough, so type doesn’t matter. We usually keep 1% in the house, so I used that.
Spices – use the spices below as posted or adjust them to your liking. Changing up spices is a matter of taste, it won’t wreak your cookies to add less ginger or more nutmeg. If you grate your own spices, use less though, because fresh are more potent than ground.
- 1 tablespoon ground organic cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon ground organic ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground organic cloves
- Dash of organic nutmeg
Other traditional gingerbread-minded spices that I don’t use, but you may want to consider include: anise seed, coriander, cardamom, fennel seed, star anise and ground black pepper.
Making your soft gingerbread cookies
- Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a large bowl.
- Add your sugar and mix until well combined.
- Toss your softened butter into the flour mixture and cut the butter in with a pastry cutter. This isn’t pie making, so soft butter is a-okay, no need for the butter to be cold. Cut the butter in until the flour mixture resembles small shreds or balls.
- In a small bowl whisk your molasses and milk together, then drizzle the molasses mixture over your flour mixture.
- Mix everything together until well combined. It’s a little hard to mix near the end, but a decent wooden spoon will do the job.
- At this point you’ll have a bowl of velvety smooth dough. Now, you can chill your dough for a bit if you like, but I didn’t. I don’t like working with stiff dough.
- After chilling (or now, if you don’t chill) grab a third of the dough and pat it into a ball onto a piece of parchment paper. Notice in the slide-show above that I DID NOT sprinkle flour on the parchment or the dough. This dough is awesome. It won’t stick to your parchment at all, no flour needed.
- If you want nice soft, chewy cookies, roll your dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. For crisper cookies, roll the dough thinner. For super soft cookies, roll the dough even thicker – I didn’t try this, but I’m guessing thicker than 1/4 inch cookies will need an extra minute or so in the oven.
- Use cookie cutter to cut shapes into your dough. Once you’ve used up all the space, peel away the excess dough, so you’re left with a bunch of cookie shape on your parchment.
- Now, because this dough is soft, transferring the cookies to a cookie sheet can be a bit tricky, but not bad. You can either pick up the whole darn parchment and slide it onto a cookie sheet, or carefully lift each cookie with a spatula and place them on your cookie sheet. Either way though, you should prepare your cookie sheet with parchment.
- Bake these at 350 degrees for no longer than 7 to 8 minutes. They should still look a bit undone, but remember, they’ll keep setting up a little after they’re out of the oven.
- As soon as possible get them off the hot pan and onto a cooling rack. My cookies easily transferred to my cooling rack after a minute.
- Cool entirely before decorating.
Decorating your gingerbread cookies
You’ve got various decor choices available, including glaze, frosting, (glaze + frosting), sugar sprinkles or other candy adornments. To make a basic cookie glaze, see the glaze recipe in my organic pumpkin cupcake post. To make frosting, keep reading…
Basic cookie frosting:
- Whip 1/3 cup of butter until creamy.
- Mix in 2 cups organic powdered sugar.
- Add a dash of organic, Fair Trade vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of organic milk.
- Add another 2 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.
- Mix everything until creamy smooth and well combined. You can do this by hand, but I use a small inexpensive hand mixer for better results.
If it’s too thick you can add a bit more milk. You can also substitute 1/4 cup fresh organic orange juice + 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel for the milk in this recipe if you’d like an orange flavored frosting, which goes well with gingerbread. This frosting can be spread on cookies or piped on with a reusable pastry bag for design work. You can also color it with natural food coloring. I use India Tree Natural Decorating Colors.
Other decorating options: