Light and Dark Gingerbread Cookies

Yes, you need both light and dark gingerbread cookies in your life come Christmas time. One is sweeter and milder. The other is stronger and spicier. Because you and your loved ones deserve to have things exactly as you like.

Light and Dark Gingerbread

That’s correct. This recipe makes light and dark gingerbread cookies. Because sometimes it’s not a bad thing to indulge our culture of gratification and have exactly what we want. In this case, it’s exactly the gingerbread cookie you crave, whether that means the light gingerbread cookie that’s mild and sweet and light in color or the dark gingerbread cookie that’s stronger, spicier, and visually more arresting owing to the inclusion of dark molasses. One isn’t inherently lovelier than the other. Just different.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Light and Dark Gingerbread Cookies

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  • 20 M
  • 2 H
  • Makes 1 recipe
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Ingredients

  • For the light gingerbread cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup (170 grams) light molasses, golden syrup, or honey*
  • 1 cup (213 grams) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces or 198 grams) unsalted butter
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 4 teaspoons (7 grams) ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (5 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • 4 cups (480 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • For the dark gingerbread cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) dark molasses (NOT blackstrap molasses)
  • 3 tablespoons (64 grams) light molasses, golden syrup, or honey*
  • 1 cup (213 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces/198 grams) unsalted butter
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange (about 5 grams)
  • 4 teaspoons (7 grams) ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (5 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups (480 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

  • Make the light gingerbread cookie dough
  • 1. In a large, deep-sided saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the light molasses, sugar, butter, lemon zest, and spices and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
  • 2. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat and vigorously beat in the baking soda. Be careful as the mixture will froth up. Mix briefly just until combined and then let cool for 15 minutes.
  • 3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt and then fold it into the mixture in batches, using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer. Beat in the egg until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture or the cookies will spread during baking. The dough will be very sticky.
  • 4. Scrape the dough onto a clean surface and knead until just smooth, about 7 minutes. Do not add any flour. (Alternately, you can use the dough hook on a stand mixer and knead for about 5 minutes.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours. (You may need to let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes prior to being able to roll it.)
  • Make the dark gingerbread cookie dough
  • 5. Meanwhile, in a large, deep-sided saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the dark and light molasses, sugar, butter, orange zest, and spices and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
  • 6. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat and vigorously beat in the baking soda. Be careful as the mixture will froth up. Mix briefly just until combined and then let cool for 15 minutes.
  • 7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour and salt and then add the baking soda mixture in batches. Beat in the egg until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture or the cookies will spread during baking. The dough will be very sticky.
  • 8. Use the dough hook on your stand mixer to knead the dough for about 5 minutes or scrape the dough onto parchment paper and knead until just smooth, about 7 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky as you start to knead but do not add any flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours. (You may need to let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes prior to being able to roll it.)
  • Roll out and bake the gingerbread cookies
  • 9. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Cut a large piece of parchment paper.
  • 10. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out the gingerbread dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Use cookie cutters or gingerbread house templates to cut shapes. Leaving the dough on the parchment, carefully transfer everything to a rimmed baking sheet. Gather any scraps of gingerbread cookie dough and either roll them out on a second piece of parchment paper and make more shapes or wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for another day. (Never throw away scraps of gingerbread cookie dough!) Place the baking sheet with the gingerbread cookie dough in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • 11. Bake in the oven in batches until the cookies are golden brown at the edges, 10 to 20 minutes for smaller pieces and 20 to 25 minutes for larger pieces. (The longer the baking time, the stiffer the gingerbread cookies, so if you are constructing a gingerbread house or something similar that requires support, bake the cookies until a little more golden than you might usually bake a cookie. The oven temperature in this recipe is intentionally lower than many cookie recipes to help the dough hold its shape well and for the cookies to bake through entirely without over browning the surface.) Let the gingerbread cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely. You can keep the gingerbread cookies at room temperature in a covered container for up to several days. If constructing a gingerbread house, it will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks if kept out of direct light and in a cool, dry environment.

What You Need To Know About Honey In Cookies

  • Just sharing a word of caution from the author that if you opt to use honey in cookie dough, it can cause the cookies to spread a little during baking. Just thought you should know in case you’re seeking cookies that have super precise and straight lines.

Recipe Testers Reviews

Perfect gingerbread cookies recipe! Your house will smell wonderful, too! I kneaded the first batch of dough by hand for 7 minutes and it was a total mess. The dough is VERY sticky at this point and I ended up with giant gingerbread hands. For the second batch, I used my dough hook on the mixer for 5 minutes and it was fine. Freezing the gingerbread cookie dough for 10 minutes is the secret to keeping the pieces from spreading while baking. The larger pieces baked for 22 minutes and even the smaller ones baked for 15 to 20 minutes. Every piece came out perfectly.

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Comments

  1. This recipe has been my go-to for gingerbread cookies since I stumbled upon it in 2016. Every Christmas my family looks forward to when I tell them the cookies are coming. Generally, the dark gingerbread recipe is made. I love that these cookies are really balanced and the ginger comes through really clearly on your palate. I also really enjoy the citrus peel, I find it elevates the flavor and complements the spices really well.

    The dough is very sticky initially but firms up perfectly in my stand mixer with the dough hook. Depending on when I plan on rolling out the dough and baking it, I either put the dough in the freezer for 10-20 minutes or stick it in the fridge overnight. I tend to section the dough when I take it out of wherever it’s been chilled; this allows me to roll it out easier since I’m short on counter space. A single batch makes a lot of dough.

    It’s now become a tradition to make hundreds of 1-inch cookies rather than larger ones. I bake them for 6 minutes, rotating halfway through at the recipe temperature, and they always come out perfectly! I’m so happy to have found this recipe!

    Sixty one-inch dark gingerbread men on a wire rack

    1. Emma, I admire your fortitude. Hundreds of cookies at a time. That’s impressive! Is there any way to get adopted by your family?! I want to wish you and your family a happy (and deeply delicious) holiday season!

    2. Emma, I just want to chime in and say how lovely your cookies look and how grateful I am that these are a Christmas tradition for you. Food is so much more than just food, isn’t it?! We so appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experience with us. Wishing you and yours all the magic of the season…

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