The Joy of Gingerbread (and the Blonde Gingerbread Cookie)

My quest for the perfect gingerbread cookie recipe started decades ago. I tried every recipe in every cookbook I had, could borrow or checked  out of the library. In total, over 30 recipes were tried and none of them gave me exactly what I wanted. Which was a firm cookie that could stand up to being frosted, stacked, cut large or small, turned into a house, Tardis or person yet be soft inside and above all DELICIOUS.

Then I found a cookbook that has become my favorite, The Joy of Cooking (the 1945 edition). You know that the first recipe I tried was, of course, the gingerbread recipe. And it passed the test and met my personal criteria with flying, merry Christmas colors.

I also enjoy altering a good recipe to make it fit all of my purposes, rather than spending ten more years hunting down the next perfect recipe. This recipe creates that classically dark gingerbread cookie, but sometimes, for the sake of interest and to add more variety in building elements, I want a more ‘blonde’ version. Something that fits all the above criteria, but contrasts the dark so we can make contrasting roofs or marbled cookies. I’ve included my own alternate ingredients to create a ‘blonde’  version in the parenthesis following the original ingredient.

(Recipe and information continue below photos…)

They had to test the gingerbread house decorations before they started. It was like setting a plate of Christmas magic down in front of them.

Three icing bags ready to go for three sets of eager hands.

This is how light the Blonde Gingerbread dough works up.

The Boy is my Christmas elf. He LOVES Christmas and all of the traditions that go along with it. He’s kept me on track with gifts, lists, decorating and wrapping presents. He is such a blessing!

Big Sister focuses on precision for the moment, I’ll get a pic of hers when she’s spent her hours designing and finishing it.

And here is The Boy’s creation, he did the whole thing by himself and couldn’t be prouder.


Gingerbread Cookies (blonde version substitute in parenthesis):
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (blonde: 1/2 cup white sugar)
1/2 cup molasses (blonde: 1/2 cup corn syrup)
1/2 cups, all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup warm water
My own additions (optional):
2 Tablespoons orange zest
1 tsp vanilla

Cream the butter and molasses together in one bowl (this is where you would add the orange zest and vanilla as well). In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients (original recipe asks to sift, but I don’t). To the creamed mixture, add 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix until stiff, then add 1/3 of the water, do this until dough is combined. The dough will be stiff, but moist when touched. Depending on the weather and moisture of other ingredients, I’ve had to use more or less water by a few tablespoons. I cheat and use a stand mixer, this dough is very thick and would be a bear to make without it, but it can be done.

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Rhissanna - December 20, 2012 - 10:46 pm

Wow, he made such a sweet little gingerbread cottage! I understand the search for the right cookie recipe (I was on the same hunt for years for a decent shortbread. Two colours of gingerbread to play with, add up to a whole range of possibilities. Thank you for sharing the results of your endeavours.

madme - December 21, 2012 - 9:29 am

You are welcome, it really is fun to work with the two tones. I’ll be posting more pictures when I’ve made some marble cookies today.

MIchelle Chandler - December 21, 2012 - 4:29 pm

thanks :)

BTW, ADORABLE houses!!

Heidi - December 21, 2012 - 4:30 pm
Marsha - December 21, 2012 - 4:32 pm

I pined your wrist wraps ty so much for the awesome giveaway here..

Roberta O - December 21, 2012 - 4:33 pm

Love your wrist wraps! :) Thanks for the chance!!

Angela dean - December 21, 2012 - 4:35 pm

Thank you for the chance to win. I public shared your cookie picture on the Facebook.

Jessica Whitby - December 21, 2012 - 4:36 pm
Love it!! Thank you so much!

Sarah Norman - December 21, 2012 - 4:36 pm

I actually pinned this recipe earlier, but have also pinned your hat pattern here :)
I have your wrist wrap pattern, hoping to get a chance to make them once Christmas making is done!

slipstitches - December 21, 2012 - 4:37 pm
Holly Williams - December 21, 2012 - 4:38 pm

Here is my Pinterest post:

Oh, and I loved reading about your gingerbread adventures on the post above

Emily Nielsen - December 21, 2012 - 4:41 pm

love your blog its amazing!

Lindsey - December 21, 2012 - 4:41 pm Love your hat and wrist warmers!

Nicole R - December 21, 2012 - 4:42 pm

I can’t help it! I love the wrist wraps too :)

Claudia Powers-Canny - December 21, 2012 - 4:43 pm
Shirley - December 21, 2012 - 4:44 pm

Shared on my wall!

Ashley R - December 21, 2012 - 4:46 pm

That looks so fun!

Thanks & Merry Christmas!

Miranda - December 21, 2012 - 4:47 pm
Destiny Mader - December 21, 2012 - 4:47 pm

Wow I loved your wrist wraps. I am a beginner at crochet and knitting and I have nooo Idea how you make those and so well at that! Thanks for the Giveaway!!

heather - December 21, 2012 - 4:47 pm

i’m loving this!!! its soooo pretty!!

chris - December 21, 2012 - 4:48 pm
mieke lenaerts - December 21, 2012 - 4:48 pm
Kristen Taylor - December 21, 2012 - 4:48 pm

Think these maybe a Christmas must! :)

Heather B - December 21, 2012 - 4:50 pm

I WILL make this one day soon :)

Danielle Libby - December 21, 2012 - 4:50 pm
andrea beneda - December 21, 2012 - 4:51 pm
Ryan Origon - December 21, 2012 - 4:54 pm
I pinned the yummy cookies! Thank you!

Sandi H - December 21, 2012 - 4:54 pm

Thank you for the giveaway! I pinned

Amber M. - December 21, 2012 - 4:54 pm
stacy blass - December 21, 2012 - 4:57 pm
Megan Borah - December 21, 2012 - 5:00 pm

Here’s my pin:
Looks sooo yummy, can’t wait to try it! I hope I win myself a pair of wrist warmers! Your pattern is by far the best of all I’ve seen and they’re one of my favorite things to make!

Cara Louise - December 21, 2012 - 5:01 pm

I don’t comment often- but I do always read and enjoy ALL of your posts. Your photography makes me jealous, your writing is inspiring, and your creativity is so full of fun! I shared your sweet little kitty toy on pinterest! LOVE and many blessings to you sweetheart!

Jennifer Landry - December 21, 2012 - 5:04 pm

This looks so yummy!!! I may have to try this out with my son this weekend. I’ve always been scared to make my own gingerbread, and always store bought to decorate.

I also pinned this post here…

Colleen - December 21, 2012 - 5:05 pm
candy Fulsher - December 21, 2012 - 5:07 pm

I posted on my Facebook page and pinned to my pinterest. Can’t figure out how to share it on here with my phone. Grrrr

madme - December 21, 2012 - 5:12 pm

Jennifer, it’s not hard at all! It’s really fun! I suggest go small, it’s much easier and more fun to make a small house, large houses become a chore.

Gail Carroll - December 21, 2012 - 5:12 pm

Love the gingerbread house.

Pam - December 21, 2012 - 5:14 pm
Erica - December 21, 2012 - 5:15 pm

Absolutely love these little owls:

Karla - December 21, 2012 - 5:17 pm
Vinita McCall - December 21, 2012 - 5:27 pm

You have ADORABLE stuff!!!! LOVE!!

Vinita McCall - December 21, 2012 - 5:28 pm

love your stuff!!! sooooo cute!!!

Thanks for running the contest!!!

Sheilah Jensen - December 21, 2012 - 5:31 pm
Amy Hoyt - December 21, 2012 - 5:38 pm
Rachel M - December 21, 2012 - 5:38 pm

Here’s my pin:

BTW, love the houses! Looks yummy!

anna staggs - December 21, 2012 - 5:49 pm
Christa - December 21, 2012 - 5:53 pm

Here is my pin:
Love the hand warmers pattern

Christy - December 21, 2012 - 5:58 pm

Here’s my pin:

This is gorgeous!

Michelle Pastro - December 21, 2012 - 6:05 pm
Kierstin Stout - December 21, 2012 - 6:10 pm
Brittany - December 21, 2012 - 6:18 pm

Love your gingerbread houses!!!

vanessa Garza - December 21, 2012 - 6:19 pm
Denise McCaskill - December 21, 2012 - 6:43 pm

Thanks for doing the giveaway!! :D

Lena McDonald - December 21, 2012 - 6:47 pm

I Love, Love Love the Wrist Wraps! I work outside, Hunt and Fish,
all winter and these would be WONDERFUL to wear!! I pinned them to my Pinterest Pinned onto Go Outside from

Lena McDonald - December 21, 2012 - 7:21 pm

I pinned the Wrist Wraps on Pinnerest and also to my timeline on Facebook, Lena McDonald

Tammy P - December 21, 2012 - 8:16 pm
DeAnna - December 21, 2012 - 10:00 pm

I hope I am not too late…I really wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe as I always wanted to try this and will next year for sure with my grandson…hmmm…maybe since I am running out of time I can make gingerbread Valentines Day houses??!! LOL Thanks for sharing..
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