Classic Christmas Gingerbread

Baking Christmas cookies always stirs up a memory from when I was a fairly naive eight year old. One of my best friends from home is Jewish, and I met her around that time. She and I had had conversations about her religion, and while I understood the basics, I remember thinking it was absolutely criminal that she didn’t get all the things I associated with Christmas, particularly Christmas cookies {Of course, I was also about ready to convert when she told me about Hanukkah and how she had eight days to celebrate instead of just one, but that’s eight year old logic for you}.

I remember asking my mom, while we were getting ready to bake our usual round of Christmas cookies – each year we’d go on a baking frenzy and pass out little plates of cookies to teachers, neighbors, and friends – if people who didn’t get a Christmas were happy. At this point, I think Santa, Christmas presents, carols, and Christmas cookies were mandatory to an eight year old’s concept of “happy.”

Anyway, my mother told me something then that has stuck with me throughout the years, and I think is the best answer for all the holiday conundrums {and this isn’t a direct quote, but it’s close enough}: “If someone wishes you a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, happy holidays, or just a good day in general, you say ‘thank you,’ because all they’re doing is trying to share a little joy.”

That being said, my friends and I enjoyed the cookies in full holiday spirit when Mom sent them with me to school.

In the spirit of that, I decided to make my family’s gingerbread recipe for my offering to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2013. We’ve been making this recipe since I was a kid, and the times I was deployed, it was always the one I asked for. It’s the most comforting thing to have with a cup of hot coffee and the smell never failed to remind me of home. I hope it brought some of the same cheer to the lovely ladies I shared it with. And for an extra bit of cheer – the cookie swap raised $14,000 in support of an organization that funds research and support mechanisms for kids with cancer and their families. How great is that? Go food bloggers and cookie swap sponsors!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, if you want a little warmth, comfort, and cheer, try these little babies on for size, and I hope they bring you the warmest wishes for a happy December and New Year, from my family to yours.

Classic Christmas Gingerbread

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

How to make them:


1. If you’re making this recipe without power tools {i.e. a powerful stand mixer}, you don’t need to hurry, but if you’ve got a mixer, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Melt the butter and combine it with the molasses and water in a large bowl. It doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture – just stir until everything is basically blended. I usually do this in the bowl of my stand mixer so that I can just dump everything else in.

3. If you have to do this by hand, it requires a lot of arm strength. So if you haven’t gotten around to picking up a stand mixer in your kitchen time, set aside a lot of time to do this and rest! Otherwise, you can be like me and stand around idly while your mixer does the work.

I use the bread hook attachment for this. I mix the dry ingredients separately and then, slowly, I pour the dry ingredients into the mixture about a cupful at a time and let the mixer run on medium {3-4}. Sometimes you have to scrape the sides of the mixer to get all the stray ingredients in, but that’s about all the work you have to do. Pretty nice, huh?

Gingerbread-6368I love the patterns the mixer makes as it’s whipping the ingredients together. It just looks fun. And yes, it’s also there to distract you from my teeny tiny kitchen and all the recipes I have Post-It Noted to the cupboards. I really can’t wait to put in our new kitchen. Anyway…

4. Drop the cookies by the spoonful onto clean cookie sheets {this is for you, Kasha – no yucky mottled cookie sheets around here, because that bugs me, too}. Pour the raw sugar crystals {you can also use colored sprinkles for a festive touch, or just regular granulated sugar} onto a dish. Wet the bottom of a glass, press it into the sugar, and press a cookie flat.

Keep doing this, sometimes a couple “smashes” per cookie, until they’re all flattened with a nice coat of sugar on top of them. This definitely works better with raw sugar since the crystals are larger, but you can use pretty much any bit of sweetness you want.

5. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are slightly cracked.

I love serving these warm with a cup of coffee. Maybe it just speaks to my Scandinavian blood, but there’s something about all the mingling of the flavors that’s just wonderfully warm.

If you’re looking for more wonderful cookie recipes, check out the hundreds of offerings at the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – and if you’re inclined to bake and love cookie exchanges, sign up on the notification list so you can be ready for next year’s!



  • Kasha @ The FarmGirl Cooks

    Do we need to start a Facebook page: Bloggers Unite Against Dirty Cookie Sheets?

    • KC Saling

      Yes! And half a dozen other nasty things that people have been food-styling on. Like old books and rags that look questionable. Eww!

  • Jessica

    So excited to get these in the mail, KC! We loved them – thanks again! :)

    • KC Saling

      So glad you enjoyed them, Jessica!

  • Robert Wareham

    These look so good!.. Much better than the ginger snaps I attempted to make last week – let’s just say they weren’t quite what I had hoped for. I think I’ll give up on those and use your recipe instead! :)

    • KC Saling

      These are wickedly easy to make, especially if you have a good stand mixer. If not, it takes a little arm strength to get everything all mixed together, but nothing in there takes any fancy prep. I hope you enjoy them!

  • Alison Lumbatis

    Oh my! Warm with a cup of coffee sounds perfect. Can I come over? Yum, gingerbread is one of my favorites. My grandmother used to always make it for us.

    • KC Saling

      I love these – they always make me think of cold winter afternoons bundled up in flannel! It’s definitely a comfort cookie! 😀

  • Aliza

    Ah yes, I fondly remember those cookies! We do get eight nights of presents, so…yeah! But I never turn down cookies. YUM.

    • KC Saling

      I’d be happy to send you some! 😀