Cookies recipe

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe and the Magic of Holiday Baking

This holiday season will be different from last year for many reasons. One of the main changes is the fact that I won’t be living in a small apartment where the fire alarm goes off if you peek into the oven.

There is nothing wrong with living in an apartment. I rather like the fact that someone takes care of all the non-fun parts of being an adult, including landscaping and leaf removal. In this particular apartment, someone even grabbed the trash can. It was amazing.

But those smoke detectors. They were on another level. If you sizzled a little bacon or roasted tomatoes, those things would start whining until you opened all the windows and danced around with tea towels, waving the mostly invisible smoke out of the apartment. It’s terribly hard to get rid of something you can’t see. Maybe that’s how the exorcists feel.

More Southern Cuisine:Sugar & Spice: Southern Kitchen showcases the art, culture and science of holiday sweets

In any case, even cookie making was out of the question. The cooking equipment that I put away above the refrigerator has gathered dust. Cookie sheets were unused in the odd little drawer under the oven. The sugar hardened because, even in the dead of winter, there was unusual humidity in this downstairs apartment.

Now, that wasn’t really depressing, although I sound like I’m painting a sad picture. We turned our attention to other fun things for the holidays, cruising to Nashville for holiday lights, hot chocolate and other people’s cookies. OPC, if you will. Everything was perfectly beautiful and festive.

But this year will be even better because there will be pastry.

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Before my family moved from Asheville to Nashville, we had started a small tradition of gingerbread making. My then 5 year old daughter would help me roll out and cut the dough, I would bake the little people, candy canes and snowflakes, then set up the decorating station once the cookies had cooled and I was sitting down for a bit of holiday magic.

I laugh. I would have a quiet anxiety attack as I watched my little child smear icing on all the surfaces in which she would then stick edible decorations that would end up on the bottom of my socks and the soles of my shoes until the new year. I would talk to myself about the ledge while remembering that a little green frosting on the walls is part of learning how to decorate. A little ground cookie dough in the mat is fine. It’s a sticky reminder of the holiday spirit!

Now my daughter is 6 years old. She will be 7 years old in mid-December. She can cook quite well. We made apple pie this weekend, and she only ate a small handful of sugar. The messes, the sticky fingers, the flour all over the kitchen – even if it all aggravates latent OCD, it’s part of a landscape of family memories that I hope never to forget.

My favorite pandemic photo was taken by my daughter’s father. He stood behind us, watching us use the violets we had picked and candied to decorate a carrot cake we had made. Now this carrot cake had the density of a door stopper. Cake flour, at this stage of closings, was hard to come by. We had to use whole wheat. The frosting was a bit grainy as we ran out of powdered sugar and the violets were clumped as it is difficult for a small child to dip a flower in egg wash and then granulated sugar with the dexterity of a baker veteran.

But none of that is apparent from the photo. Lily watches me from her stool at the counter, smiling around her index finger in her mouth, no doubt having just slipped off the frosting. I smile at her, even though I could have silently wished she’d stop putting her hands in our adorable spring cake. But I let him steal the frosting with his sticky fingers. For this reason, happiness will remain the central memory preserved in this snapshot. And that’s what I’ll remember when I look at this photo as she grows into a teenager who’d rather throw herself out of her bedroom window than bake cookies with her mother.

Until then, we will cook. We will occasionally drop sprays and set off smoke detectors. And we’ll treasure every memory we make, perhaps through the lens of slightly rose-tinted glasses.

Ginger biscuits

This recipe is from our recent holiday cookie article, “Sugar & Spice: Southern Kitchen Features the Art, Culture, and Science of Holiday Candy.” It’s by Lisa Marie White, pastry chef at Nashville’s famed Biscuit Love restaurants.

White’s secret to amazing gingerbread is golden syrup, a British ingredient that can be found online. It is also known as “light molasses”.

The gingerbread cookies, made by Lisa Marie White, the pastry chef and culinary director of Biscuit Love in Nashville, Tennessee, are on display Monday, August 22, 2022.

“When I create recipes, I like to find things that people have forgotten or don’t know about,” she said.

White also tested the recipe with King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour, to make sure even people with gluten allergies can enjoy her Christmas cookies. “You want to make everyone happy,” she told Southern Kitchen reporter Todd Price.


  • 2½ cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour (or substitute with a 1:1 flour substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • ½ cup (125 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup (90 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
  • Zest of half a small orange
  • 3 teaspoons (6 grams) ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (5 grams) pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1.2 grams) ground black pepper
  • ⅔ cups (230 grams) golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup


In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the room temperature butter with the dark brown sugar and orange zest. Then beat over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the color is clear and creamy.

Scrape the mixer bowl to make sure everything is incorporated, then add the spices, salt and black pepper. Mix for another minute and then scrape down the bowl. Now add the golden syrup and stir until combined. Scrape down mixer bowl, then add dry mixture a third at a time, mixing on medium speed until smooth.

If the mixture does not come together and is crumbly at this point, add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. If the mixture is a little too sticky or sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour.

Once the mixture comes together into a smooth ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. The dough can also be frozen for up to 2 months at this stage.

This dough makes a great edible cookie, but it can also be made into a gingerbread ornament. The only difference is in the baking time of the cookie.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Line baking sheets or cookie sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Roll out the dough to about ⅛ inch thick. Use cookie cutters or a paring knife to cut the dough into shapes. Make sure the dough stays cool so you can move it from the cutting board to the baking sheets.

Depending on the thickness, bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and dry to the touch. Let the cookies cool completely on the trays. They will get stronger as they cool.

If you are using the cookies for ornaments, remember to punch holes in the top for yarn or ribbon to hang the cookies. Also, cookies that will serve as ornaments should be baked a few more minutes so that the edges are brown, but not dark.