Recipe (adapted from Joy of Cooking gingerbread recipe):
In a large bowl:
3/4 stick butter at room temperature (6 tablespoons)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Mix all those ingredients together well then add:
1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour: but I always substitute half of the flour with whatever whole grain flours I have on hand to make the cookies more nutritious. For example: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal, 1/4 cup ground almond meal and 3/4 cup sorghum or quinoa flour). Pretty much any combination of whole grain flours works in gingerbread, but at least half of the required 3 cups of flour should be all-purpose flour or “whole grain white” all-purpose flour.
Incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients until just mixed. The dough will be pretty dry. It takes some elbow grease to get all the flour mixed in to the dough. So use an electric mixer or count it as a little workout!
After the dough is all mixed, divide in half and wrap each half with parchment, plastic wrap or tin foil. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove from fridge, set on counter and allow to come to room temperature (a few hours), then roll with a rolling-pin on a floured surface. If you don’t want to roll the dough you can also just pat it into whatever cookie shapes you want and put on a cookie sheet (or tin foil) and…
Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes (depending on thickness of the cookies). If you like soft cookies you can make them thicker and bake for a bit shorter time. If you like crunchy, make them thicker and bake a little longer. Or do some of both!
In the picture shown the “2013” number cookies were shaped by hand. The stars were rolled and cut.
Icing with royal icing is good because the icing dries rock hard (so won’t get messed up if you stack the cookies on top of one another) and adds the right amount of extra sweetness.
Adding lemon zest to the icing (or lemon extract) is another delicious option.
Or you can sprinkle colored sugar on before baking.
Icing is not mandatory but they are a very spicy not-so-sweet cookie so a touch more sugar is a nice addition.
The dough is so forgiving. You can re-roll it, shape it by hand, cut it and then pat it all back together and roll it again and the cookies will still be very tasty.
So make some gingerbread hearts for valentine’s day or some gingerbread shamrocks for St. Patty’s! Gingerbread cookies baking in your oven make your whole house smell amazing. All the spices have lots of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and the addition of whole grain flours makes for a fairly nutritious treat!
fyi: The main changes to the Joy gingerbread recipe: amounts of ginger, cinnamon, cloves nearly doubled, addition of cardamom, allspice & nutmeg and substitution of whole grain flours.