Grandma’s Gingerbread Cookies

gingerbread snowflakesHave you been on a baking binge? Tis the season! Well, here’s a recipe that you can make if your ingredients are running low. Out of eggs? Out of butter? Turn to gingerbread. Of course, there are a lot of other reasons to make this cookie – it looks beautiful, adds a little nostalgic spice to your cookie platter, and goes well with eggnog.

For me, it’s a cookie that I make every year. It’s the cookie that, as a kid, I used to look forward to getting in the mail from my grandma. I wrote down the recipe a long time ago in my middle school handwriting on a piece of looseleaf paper. This year, I had my own helper and, as we worked side by side in the kitchen together, I looked over at this fourth generation cookie baker and felt a little amazed.

cutting out gingerbread

The type of molasses that you choose really informs the flavor of this cookie. A dark molasses will produce a very bold type of cookie. While delicious (and my preference), it might not appeal to everyone. A milder molasses produces a gentler cookie that doesn’t have as much zing, but will probably appeal better to children (and finicky grown ups.)

Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/3 c. shortening, room temperature (I use palm oil shortening.)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c. dark molasses
2/3 c. cold water
6 c. AP flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

  1. With an electric mixer, cream shortening, brown sugar, and molasses together until fluffy.
  2. Mix in cold water.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet.
  5. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch. Cut shapes and place on baking sheet covered with parchment.
  6. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes.
  7. Cool.

If you’d like glazed cookies, you can pour it on when the cookies are warm to make a light glaze. Dipping your cooled cookies makes a pretty effect.


2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbls. cream
Whisk together and thin with a couple of drops of water, if needed.

Grandma’s notes:

  • Cut a piece of cardboard in the shape that you want. Place it on top of the dough and cut around it with a knife. No cookie cutters necessary.
  • To make large gingerbread boys, add 1 more cup of flour. This makes the dough stiffer. Display these like decorations or eat them up.

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