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A Gingerbread Cookie Classic

North Americans, including George Washington’s mother, have enjoyed this culinary delight for more than 200 years.

gingerbread cookies

Follow the Gingerbread Road

Trace the trail of gumdrops back through history in search of the origins of gingerbread, and you’ll find yourself in Western Europe. Follow it back even further and, scholars say, it veers toward the eastern Mediterranean. Regardless of how, when, or where gingerbread began, we are so glad it did.

Our favorite gingerbread is a traditional family recipe that has been perfected over several generations and is credited to Minnie Pearl Raffield. Full disclosure: the dough is so thick that you will need a good high-performance mixer. Hamilton Beach’s Stand Mixer features a powerful, 400-watt motor that is up to the task of the thickest dough. And, make sure you are fully prepared with the nonstick Circulon 5-Piece Bakeware Set.

Minnie Pearl’s Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies. A stand mixer is recommended.

1 cup boiling water
1 cup molasses                                               
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated (white) sugar
3 eggs (room temperature)
8 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cloves
1½ tablespoons ginger
1½ teaspoons salt
4½ teaspoons baking soda

  1. Add molasses to boiling water, stir, and let stand to cool while mixing other ingredients.
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Mix eggs with butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add dry ingredients to large bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork. Sift dry ingredients into another large bowl.
  5. Transfer butter and sugar mixture to large bowl, or to bowl of stand mixer, if using.
  6. Alternately add ¼ cup of the molasses/water and ¼ cup of dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Mix thoroughly after each addition. Dough will be very thick. After all ingredients are combined, cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator overnight or in freezer for a few hours to make rolling out easier.
  7. Before rolling dough, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough on waxed paper or clean countertop.
  8. Add a lump of dough onto approximately 1/8-inch of flour, covering dough lightly with flour and keeping hands coated with flour. Press rolling pin into center of dough and roll outward until dough is about ½-inch thick (adjust thickness to your preference). Cut into shapes with a floured cookie cutter or round jar lid. Place on greased, foil-lined cookie sheet about ½-inch apart.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove foil from cookie sheet immediately and transfer to wire rack to let cool.
  10. When cookies have come to room temperature, decorate with your favorite icing, if desired.