What is Christmas without gingerbread? Crispy Gingerbread Cookies will fulfill all of those cravings for homestyle, comforting, holiday flavours! Everyone loves gingerbread, but not everyone has the patience or time to roll out dough and dig out the cookie cutters. These cookies have that classic flavour you crave baked into a flat, crispy cookie – no decorating skills or rolling pins needed!
I think we start eating gingerbread flavoured baked goods, like these Crispy Gingerbread Cookies, in late September. And, it really does continue until well into January. (That’s because I’ve baked so much, that our freezer is probably still running over with it until mid-January!)
Gingerbread is most commonly eaten at Christmastime. Why is that? Why do we only eat the most delicious things once a year? It’s like those of us who save our best china for when company comes to visit? Why does company deserve better than your own family? I say that life is too short to not use the fine china every day if you have it. And, just like the fancy dishes, apply the same logic to eating really good cookies too!
THE ORIGINS OF GINGERBREAD
The history of gingerbread is quite the story, and quite lengthy too. I love to learn about where food comes from and why we make food items the way we do. Gingerbread is no exception. The origins of gingerbread can be traced back to the year 992. It was created by an Armenian monk. He was responsible for teaching the French how to bake gingerbread.
In the 13th century, the Germans brought gingerbread to Sweden. Swedish nuns adopted gingerbread; they believed it to be medicinal and would help with issues like indigestion. They were responsible for the decoration of gingerbread and would paint them to look like church windows.
Fast forward to the 17th century. Gingerbread was being sold in pharmacies and town squares, again for medicinal purposes. Eventually, gingerbread found its way to North America and was first recorded in a cookbook dated 1796.
WE LOVE GINGERBREAD!
Lord Byron’s Kitchen is certainly no stranger to the wonderful spices that make up the awesomeness that is gingerbread. But, when it comes to gingerbread recipes itself, I’m afraid my blog is lacking. I have my Gingerbread Bundt Cake and my Gingerbread Truffles. There’s just so much more to do with the flavours of gingerbread!
I think when most of us hear the term gingerbread, we automatically think of an icing-covered, candy-coated, barely-standing-up-straight, too-tough-to-bite, cookie house at Christmastime. I used to love helping and watching McKenna decorate those when she was a kid, but Lord, it was messy!
My worry was that the cats were going to eat the icing and we all know just how that would end up! The gingerbread house was never eaten. It was always too hard, and by the time we got around to it, it had been sitting for a few days. Gross. Trust me, these Crispy Gingerbread Cookies won’t be sitting around for too long at all. They are delicious and it’s hard to eat just one!
MORE CHRISTMAS CONFECTIONS!
Maybe you don’t care much for cookies. Or, maybe you’re impatient and can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s recipe will be! If either one of those applies to you, I have a remedy. Last year, I published a series called Lord Byron’s 12 Biscotti of Christmas. The year before that, I published a series called Lord Byron’s 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas. And, just a few days ago, I finished this year’s mini series call Lord Byron’s 12 Truffles of Christmas. You can click on the image below and see the entire series on one page! Don’t worry, you won’t lose this page. It will open up a new page so that you can easily get back to these cookies!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE:
- Butter – Make sure your butter is at room temperature! Use unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, do not add the additional salt as indicated further down this list.
- Sugar – Sugar will caramelize when baked, which will help to brown the cookies.
- Brown Sugar – For colour and flavour!
- Egg Yolk – One large egg is all you need. Whenever you set out to bake, make sure your eggs are at room temperature too – just like your butter!
- Vanilla Extract – Probably the most common extract and the most common flavouring used in cakes and cookies.
- Flour – No need for anything special. Just use regular all-purpose flour. I have not tried this recipe with any other type of flour.
- Molasses – When baking, the best molasses is fancy molasses. Stay away from dark or blackstrap molasses unless instructed otherwise. Fancy molasses is a light molasses.
- Baking Soda – Commonly known as sodium bicarbonate, or just bicarb, it is a baking ingredient that’s activated by a liquid and an acid to help with leavening or rising.
- Salt – This is a common ingredient in baking and cooking. In baking it helps to enhance and balance sweetness.
- Sanding Sugar – Coarse sugar, sometimes referred to as sanding sugar, is used sometimes for decorative purposes. It is sometimes called pearl sugar or coarse baking sugar.
SPICES YOU’LL NEED TO GET THAT GINGERBREAD FLAVOUR!
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is an aromatic spice with a warming flavour.
- Ginger – Ground ginger is fresh ginger that has been peeled and dried before being ground into a powder. It adds a warming, spicy flavour to recipes.
- Nutmeg – Nutmeg is a seed that comes in whole or ground form. It is a key ingredient in many baked goods and is essential to anything eggnog related. I often use it in fall dishes, especially in mashed potatoes!
- Cloves – Ground cloves come from whole cloves which have been finely ground. It is extremely fragrant and commonly found in spiced cakes and confections.
THANK GOODNESS FOR MOLASSES!
It is said that Americans were responsible for giving the gingerbread its brown colour. Previously, gingerbread was white, because it was made with white sugar. Molasses proved to be less expensive. And, soon, it became a substitute, therefore, we now associated gingerbread with that dark brown colour.
Isn’t history awesome? I wish I had paid more attention in history class during my school years! My daughter, McKenna, has a great interest in history; she got that from her mother, not me! Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk more about this particular gingerbread recipe.
IS SANDING SUGAR AND GRANULATED SUGAR THE SAME THING?
I get so many questions about the different kinds of sugars. Unless you’re a full time baker, or really in-tune with baking ingredients, it can be a little overwhelming. I use sanding sugar quite often and I hope it’s not too difficult for you to find. Sanding sugar is sometimes referred to as baking sugar, and there are some substitutes.
You can use other sugars – which are basically the same, but named something differently – there’s pearl sugar and coarse sugar. You cannot, however, use granulated sugar. Let me explain why.
Whereas an individual granule of sanding sugar is large and hard, a single granule of granulated sugar is quite small. Sanding sugar will hold up to the heat in your oven without melting; granulated sugar will not. If you can only find granulated sugar, you can either skip the coating in sugar step, or you can use turbinado sugar. Turbinado sugar is a golden brown though, so it will throw off the colour of your finished cookie. Wilton calls it sparkling sugar.
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set it aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars until creamy and smooth. About 2-3 minutes. Add the molasses and beat into the sugar and butter mixture.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Beat to incorporate. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just mixed in. Roll mixture into balls using 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dough for each cookie. Roll in the sanding sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet. Leave two inches of space between each cookie.
Using the bottom of a drinking glass, flatten the ball to half the height it is now. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes. Carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
TIPS & TRICKS: If you do not have all of those spices on hand, you can purchase a jar of pumpkin spice blend instead. It has all four of those spices and allspice too. Honestly, it will not make a whole lot of difference. If you’re like me, you always have pumpkin spice blend on hand! I make a large batch early in the fall and use it all up by the end of December. Here’s the recipe I use to make my own pumpkin spice blend.
MORE CHRISTMAS RECIPES!
Did you know that I’ve been posting a 24 Cookies of Christmas series for a few years now? There are over 100 Christmas cookie recipes that you can find right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen! To make it easier to find, I have created a page for each series. Just click on the image below and you’ll find the full series for that volume all one page!
STORING, PACKAGING, & FREEZING
When it comes to most cookies, they taste best at room temperature, but they don’t hold up well to being left out on your countertop for long periods of time. Cookies will stay fresh in a cookie jar or food-safe container with a lid for 3-5 days if left to sit on your kitchen countertop. You can store them in a food-safe container in your fridge. When you want one, two, or half a dozen, take them out of the container and place them in a single layer on a plate. Let them sit at room temperature for 5 minutes and they’re ready!
If you plan to freeze your Crispy Gingerbread Cookies, you certainly can! Pile them into a clean, food-safe container. The container must be freezer friendly! You’ll want to ensure a very tight fitting lid too. I use these quite often when freezing baked goods. I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. If you plan to give previously frozen cookies as a gift, I would lay them out onto a wire cooling rack to thaw completely. If packaging, wait until the condensation has evaporated. Just a warning here that these cookies do not retain that crispiness after being frozen and thawed. They become a bit softer and a little chewy. They are still absolutely delicious though! Once thawed, pile into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or stack in a cookie tin/box.
If I have not answered all of your questions in the text above, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! You can contact me by sending me a message in the comments section further down the page. I will try my best to answer as soon as possible! You might reach me even faster by following me on Facebook and sending me a private message. Scroll down to follow me and never miss another recipe!
Finally, as I stated previously, every day I will be posting a new recipe. If you miss one, don’t fret. You can find my entire collection of Christmas Recipes right here! There are over 100 Christmas recipes and counting. There’s something for everyone! Cheers!
Crispy Gingerbread Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons fancy molasses
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup sanding sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars until creamy and smooth. About 2-3 minutes.
- Add the molasses and beat into the butter and sugar mixture.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Beat to incorporate.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just mixed in.
- Roll mixture into balls using 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dough for each cookie. Roll in the sanding sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet. Leave two inches of space between each cookie.
- Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press and flatten the ball to half the current thickness.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes. Carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.