Improved Gingerbread Cookies – Hold the Molasses

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The look and smell of December – warm, spicy gingerbread cookies straight from the oven, or let them cool and frost them for a more traditional treat.

‘Tis the season for hot toddies and gingerbread cookies. Out in the Alaskan bush, we have to plan ahead for any special ingredients. Ginger, yes. Cloves, yes. Molasses? When stocking up our pantry, I was on the fence when it came to molasses. I really don’t like molasses. It’s not a flavor I would normally add to any of my creations. But it is very traditional in a couple of bread and cookie recipes. In Point Hope, we kept it as a pantry item and only used it once over three years. So, I opted against stocking it again here at “the Lake.”

Here it is December, and I have a hankering for gingerbread cookies, but I have no molasses… Throwing molasses to the wind, I altered a gingerbread cookie recipe by upping the ginger and using a combination of honey and pure maple syrup instead of the traditional molasses. The result? A flavorful, spicy cookie with enough “brownness” to satisfy the eye and a flavor to satisfy my December craving. After frosting these little babies and bringing them to my students, I was met with many compliments and requests for more. Who says elementary student palates don’t know what’s good? The adults who sampled the cookies concurred with my young tasters. I patted myself on the back for improving a long-standing recipe and also for avoiding an expedited shipment of molasses from the nearest grocery store – nearly 500 air miles away!

Improved Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cut unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • Royal icing (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix butter and sugars.
  2. Mix in honey and maple syrup.
  3. Mix in egg.
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Stir butter mixture into flour mixture.
  6. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and form into two large disks.
  7. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  9. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Roll out dough of one disk between two sheets of waxed paper. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.
  11. Using cookie cutters, cut out figures. Use an offset spatula to move cookies to prepared baking sheet.
  12. Repeat with remaining dough.
  13. Gather up scraps and roll out and cut as with original dough.
  14. Bake cookies until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
  15. Let the cookies cool on sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.
  16. Decorate cookies with Royal icing, if desired.