I agree- it’s too early for Christmas talk, and ginger cookies seem pretty Christmas-y. However, I took a trip to Massachusetts in September (my first time in the true Northeast- crazy, I know) and I had the best ginger cookie I’ve ever had. I ate it out of a brown paper bag in the car and rejoiced in every single crumb.
The cookie was dense but soft in the middle, perfectly gingery, and covered in sugar. This was my first attempt at imitation. My version is like a loaf of gingerbread in a cookie: not too sweet, super soft, and incredibly comforting.
For a ginger and molasses-packed Northeastern classic, I figured I should look to my Boston Cooking School Cookbook (1931). Sure enough, it had about 15 different ginger cookie recipes. The recipe I used as a base was for a classic roll-out dough, but I modified it to make these soft, yummy drop cookies.
These cookies have all the good stuff: molasses, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of cloves. Also- there is no mixer necessary! Everything can be done by hand.
The buttermilk, molasses, and maple syrup help make a pretty sticky cookie dough. It may be messy to scoop out, but it’s worth it! There’s no chance your cookies will be too crunchy or dry.
Roll heaping tablespoons of cookie dough in raw sugar for a nice sweet crunch on the outside of the soft cookies. Into the oven and… voila!
Soft cookie perfection. I highly recommend eating them warm out of the oven, but the great thing is, they are also amazing after the flavors meld for a day or two. Both the old recipe and the new are below.
Look at those beautiful swirled logs of 1930s cookie dough in the photo! The older cookbooks tend to favor slice-and-bake and rolled out cookie dough . Personally (unless I’m armed with cookie cutters, frosting, and intense holiday spirit), I prefer an imperfect soft cookie to a gingersnap that I could break a tooth on. But fear no more! You can now enjoy subtle gingerbread flavor without dental worries.
Makes: 40–50 cookies, Time: 30 mins active, 10 minutes baking
3 + 3/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup shortening, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs (lightly beaten), 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tbsp cold water, 3 tbsp buttermilk, 1/2 cup molasses, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, turbinado sugar for rolling
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Set aside.
2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and buttermilk and mix thoroughly.
4. In a medium bowl, dissolve baking soda in cold water. Add molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla, and whisk together. Add molasses mixture to shortening mixture and beat to combine.
5. Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring well to incorporate all the flour. Add as much of the remaining flour as you need to form a sticky cookie dough. (If the dough is very sticky, place it in the freezer or refrigerator to chill for 10–15 minutes before scooping out cookies).
6. Scoop out heaping tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough. Roll in turbinado sugar and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Your cookies should be nice and puffy and wonderfully soft!
In these trying busy times, sometimes the only thing that makes me feel happy and warm inside is food. Good, old-fashioned, homemade-with-love food.