My parents were over at our house watching JuneBug while I was testing these cookies. It’s always nice to have a larger sample size to use as guinea pigs for my recipes, so I handed two cookies, fresh out of the oven over to my Dad and Mama for sampling. I was telling them what they were, and I said, that I decided I wanted to make a chewy gingerbread cookie, because I’m just not at all a fan of the typical hard gingerbread cookies you find on dessert trays around the holidays.
This comment spiraled into a discussion over gingerbread semantics. In my Dad’s mind, the word gingerbread, means soft and chewy—you know, like bread. But in my opinion, gingerbread is all-encompassing of the flavor, but most frequently refers to the crispy cookies (like gingerbread men or gingerbread houses). If someone says, “here, have a gingerbread cookie” the first thing that pops in my head is a crunchy gingerbread man—which I’ll pass on.
But these chewy, soft, tender gingerbread cookies? Those, I’m all over.
I have to admit, being a five-alarm chocoholic, it was a real struggle for me to avoid making all the Christmas cookies I’m sharing this month chocolatey. I understand that some people aren’t quite as keen on chocolate as I am, so I wanted to include a wide variety of flavors, but honestly, I didn’t expect the chocolate-free cookies to really impress me.
But let me tell you. These chewy gingerbread cookies are quite possibly my favorite cookie from the entire batch of 12 cookies I made for you guys! They are just…perfect. They are the perfect texture (slightly crunchy on the outside, but totally gooey and tender on the inside). They are the perfect flavor (rich and warm, with a little bit of added kick thanks to black pepper). They even look perfect. Like perfect little pillows of sugary deliciousness.
I think what makes these cookies so spectacular is that they are spectacularly simple. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing cookies with sprinkles and candy and add-ins galore, but all these cookies need as far as accoutrements is a quick roll in granulated sugar before baking to give them a sparkly shine that looks a little bit like a frosty snowfall. That’s it. The dough does all the talking.
In case you were wondering, my larger sample group was very pleased with these cookies. So much so, it put an end to the gingerbread debate. It was decided that whatever the previous definition of gingerbread was, it should be erased from the books and replaced with a description of these cookies, because this is what gingerbread should be.
- 1½ sticks butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar, for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the molasses, egg, and vanilla and mix until well-combined.
- Add in the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, and salt, and mix until just combined. Add in the flour and mix until well-combined, scraping the sides as needed.
- Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Then roll the dough into 1-inch balls, and roll each dough ball in granulated sugar. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them 2-inches apart.
- Bake in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to crack and crinkle, and the edges barely start to brown. Do not overbake or they won't be chewy!
- Let cookies cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.