the scent of nostalgia – homemade gingerbread cookies

December 15, 2013

gingerbread2Very Gingery Gingerbread

I won’t win any awards for decorating cookies, I know!

Never mind, this gingerbread is FANTASTIC. Really easy, very gingery, not too sweet. Just perfect. An ancient recipe. Pretty much no-fail. Even if you over bake it – it still tastes fantastic. It’s good under-baked too – nice and soft. (Good for all those times you forget to set the timer!) The page in my recipe collection is covered in streaks and comments – and little blobs of dough. The page actually smells like gingerbread. And that smell makes me feel all nostalgic.

For years, I decorated these cookies with my daughters and that lifted my game. A lot. They are both extremely artistic and so, before they went off to university, decorating cookies was a competitive, contact sport in our household. Same with origami.

However, it’s not really Christmas until there’s too much baking in the house and although I admire edible art – I also have a practical side and a time limit. And since I’m doing it by myself these days,  I put on the tea, and the Handel’s Messiah or the Carpenters’ Christmas CD (yes, the Carpenters) and I sing along badly and decorate the cookies, alone, steeped in happy memories.

Gingerbread Biscuits (adapted from one of grandma M’s old recipes)

1 cup butter or margarine (I used margarine because dairy-free daughter will be home soon)
I cup sugar
1 cup fancy molasses
1 egg
4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp of ground (powdered) ginger

In a large bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the molasses and egg. Add the dry ingredients and stir. Cover and chill for an hour or so.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface. Should be about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes and bake on a lightly greased cookie sheets at 325 for about 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 60 cookies, depending obviously, on the size of your cookie cutters.


I used icing sugar mixed with almond milk. I just pour icing sugar into a bowl (a couple of cups) and add almond milk by the teaspoon until it seems about right.

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  • Reply apuginthekitchen December 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I’ll have to try your gingerbread recipe, I wasn’t happy with mine last year. They cracked, wasn’t happy about that. Your cookies look wonderful.

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Thank you Suzanne! I hope you do give this one a try. It’s just a simple classic but honestly has NEVER let me down – and everyone who tries them loves them. xo

  • Reply Jennifer Smeltzer December 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    My daughters and I will most certainly be doing these. They have asked for you and Lola to be our guests when we do…..

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      can we listen to the Carpenters and drink properly steeped orange pekoe tea with a splash of milk? xo

      • Reply Jennifer Smeltzer December 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

        We sure can!! I even bought milk!!

    • Reply Jennifer Smeltzer December 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Baking some right now Lindy!!!!

  • Reply Elly December 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    This made me laugh – origami was definitely a contact sport! I can’t wait to eat way too many of these! xox

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Some coming your way Elly. xoxoxoxo

    • Reply Jessica December 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      It made me laugh too! All I can see now is you and Laura tackling each other to the floor over cookie dough or pieces of paper. hahaha the image is too funny!

      • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

        You’re absolutely right Jess. It was just like that. Even crazier. At one point the origami became so complicated that they were making dinosaurs with 46 pages of instructions (in Japanese) per dinosaur. We had to hire a translator. Laura wouldn’t go to school or sleep at nights. Elly started researching rare origami insects. Okay – maybe I’m exaggerating just a little. There was no translator. And the cookie decorating was an extreme sport. I remember one Christmas using paint brushes with about 23 colours of icing. There was icing on the counter, on the floor, likely on the ceiling. We were making cookies which took three hours to decorate and 3 seconds to eat. Phew. TGTO (thank god that’s over). See you for the competitive crack making party soon. Breaking Bad’s got NOTHING on us.

  • Reply Hello Scarlett December 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    These are beautiful!


    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks Scarlett – they’re a little free style. But they sure taste fantastic. Loved your post about Holly GoLightly!

      • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 16, 2013 at 9:22 am

        I should say “thanks – Hello Scarlett” – now known to me as Emory! What a beautiful name.

  • Reply An Embarrassment of Freedom December 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Mom always made gingerbread rabbits for Christmas…yes, rabbits. The cookie cutter is lost now thanks to an over ambitious clear out by well meaning sister-in-laws. I do have her recipie but I will try yours soon. Have you heard of using cake and pastry flour to keep the cookies soft?

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Oh Christmas rabbits! SO adorable. I have heard about using cake and pastry flour and I should do that. It’s just the limited space in the pantry – and what with the whole wheat and the all-purpose and the rice flour – my baking shelf is always packed to the rafters. I need a bigger kitchen!

  • Reply laura mechefske December 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm


  • Reply radhika25 December 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    That sounds so good! By ginger, do you mean powdered ginger or ground fresh ginger? Thanks, r

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Oh I mean powdered ginger. I will go and write that into the recipe. Thank you for pointing that out.

      • Reply radhika25 December 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm

        I’m going to try your recipe. Will let you know how it turns out 🙂

        • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm

          I hope you love it! And look forward to hearing back from you. Happy baking. 😉

  • Reply Johnny Hepburn December 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Still haven’t made any Christmas biscuits/cookies. Okay, it may help if I had cookie cutters. At last I’ve found a reindeer shape I happen to like. So that just might be my treat tomorrow. Instead of a tree. Oh, and I love Karen Carpenter’s voice – so plaintive!

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      I’m so thankful that someone else likes Karen Carpenter. I love her voice! And as for the tree – this is my first year of not doing a tree. It’s liberating! Get the reindeer. Make cookies. You can’t eat the tree and the whole concept of trees chopped down for three weeks of ‘enjoyment’ (or worse yet, plastic trees) suddenly seems quite crazy to me.

  • Reply My Little Home and Garden December 16, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I can see I must make a point of practising the social graces and invite people over for a cookie munching session. That way I can justify more baked goods in the house and try your no-fail (you promised) recipe. It does sound delicious.

  • Reply Maria Dernikos December 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    My mind is spinning at what feats of origami went on in your house? The biscuits look very moorish. i think I would go for the Christmas trees and snowmen because I like to nibble them down bit by bit!

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      Oh Maria – you’re such a darling. When you eat chocolate rabbits – do you have trouble eating the heads? I do. Always seemed mean.
      And the origami – well is was highly competitive. We had boxes of origami paper and a library’s worth of origami books!

  • Reply Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs December 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Lol. I really like you. What a wonderful post. 🙂 The recipe looks delicious, and the cookies look absolutely beautiful. Made with happiness and love…that’s what they say to me. <3

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      And what a fantastic thing to say. Thank you. How could I not also really like you?! And I’m big on the just add love thing.

  • Reply Karen December 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I think you did a terrific job decorating your cookies. What’s more important, I know that have to taste great.

  • Reply laurasmess December 31, 2013 at 2:24 am

    You completely undersell your cookie decorating ability! They’re gorgeous, I would happily scoff a heap of them! Hope that you had a beautiful Christmas, thanks for the lovely recipe xx

  • Reply gingerbread cookies | love in the kitchen ♥ December 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    […] This year I made royal icing and then used a food grade paint brush dipped in a few drops of vodka mixed with paste icing to paint on patterns. I know these are not works of art. That’s fine with me – they’re intended to be eaten. I’m not crazy about royal icing because you either have to use meringue powder (all those chemicals…) or a raw egg white (dangerous). Usually I just make icing from powdered sugar and milk or almond milk and that’s fine too – you just won’t get quite the same results. If you want to use regular icing – check out this post from the same day last year. […]

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