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.

58 comment on “The Joy of Gingerbread (and the Blonde Gingerbread Cookie)”

  1. Lena McDonald,

    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

    1. Comment author madme,

      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.

  2. Rhissanna,

    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.

    1. Comment author madme,

      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.

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