Tag Archives: gingerbread

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}My friend, VJ, loves gingerbread. Loves it. She speaks often about how before she had to stop eating gluten and went vegan, her grandma used to serve hers with canned peaches and whipped cream. While I am not much for canned peaches, the gingerbread part and the badass baking grandma part? Those I get.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Over the years, VJ has asked me to make gingerbread cakes for various milestones and occasions, but I have mostly failed. I even failed this past Thanksgiving! Too greasy, too dry, vaguely tarry, completely flavorless—I’ve made all the gingerbread cake failures under the sun. Let’s not discuss the occasion on which she had to serve store-bought ice cream cakes (that she couldn’t even eat!) at her own party because my attempt at this cake was so vile.

But then—but! then!—I tweaked my go-to gluten-free vegan cake recipe and made this Gingerbread Cake, and it’s exactly right: soft, tender, slightly sticky and spicy. And easy. And vegan and gluten-free. And out of this world delicious. This recipe right here? This one’s for VJ.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}It’s not just because I like to have a gluten-free vegan item on my holiday line-up every year (which I do). It’s that VJ’s 40th birthday is next week—you know I can’t let my favorite gluten-free vegan’s milestone birthday pass without cake. No way. Not rain, nor sleet, nor masked and distanced delivery will stop me from getting this cake to her on December 23rd.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Holy crap, y’all, this is good. Super moist with nothing to distract from its deep dark flavor, it’s better than most traditional flour, egg and dairy-based gingerbreads I’ve had. It’s definitely not better than VJ’s grandma’s though, because nothing is ever better than grandma’s. Believe me, I’ve tried to out-do grandmas and it never goes well. But anyway… Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}This Gingerbread Cake tows the line somewhere between holiday dessert and wintry everyday cake. It doesn’t need a blanket of frosting (although I think a little vegan maple buttercream might be good) or any adornment beyond a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, really. It can be baked square or round. You could even double the recipe and layer it or make a sheet cake. It can be served at the end of a holiday meal, snacked on mid-afternoon, left for Santa, frozen for you to find in the middle of February, wrapped up and given as a gift, or delivered to a birthday lady in the middle of a pandemic. No matter the occasion and regardless of whether you’re vegan and gluten-free, this might just be the only Gingerbread Cake recipe you’ll ever need.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
makes one 8- or 9-inch square or round cake

1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
3 tbsp pure pumpkin purée or unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
6 tbsp cup potato starch
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square or round pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 1 1/4 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée (or applesauce). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cornstarch, light brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth to the edges with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs (no batter).

Let cake cool completely in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan before inverting to release onto a platter (alternatively, you may keep it in the pan and serve from there). Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top before serving, if desired.

Slice and serve. Flavors will intensify the day (or several hours) after baking.

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Plain cake may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}


Gingerbread Blondies

Gingerbread BlondiesIs anyone else having a hard time concentrating today? I feel like I’m free, but I keep having to remind myself that I still have to

  • make a dinner party tonight
  • frost a cake
  • zip uptown to Zabar’s
  • buy wrapping paper
  • wrap gifts
  • pack those gifts and all my stuff into a suitcase
  • get on a very early flight to Austin

WHEW.Gingerbread BlondiesBut first—Gingerbread Blondies. I promise they’re worth adding to your to-do list.Gingerbread BlondiesI mean, chewy, winter-spiced blondies with fluffy frosting and a jewel-like ginger garnish are basically always worth it.Gingerbread BlondiesGingerbread BlondiesGingerbread BlondiesGingerbread BlondiesGingerbread BlondiesLike Wednesday’s Eggnog Cookies, these holiday-perfect blondies don’t require any skills you don’t already have. Just whisk together a quick batter, bake it, cool it, frost, garnish and slice it.Gingerbread BlondiesBoom—all the sweet Christmas cheer your heart desires, ready to go in just a couple of hours.Gingerbread BlondiesThese Gingerbread Blondies are my last recipe post of 2018. I’ll be taking next Wednesday off to spend time with my family, but I’ll be back on Friday for my annual 10 Most Popular Recipes list.Gingerbread BlondiesIf you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a merry one! And no matter which holiday you celebrate (or lack thereof), I wish you all a sweet end to 2018.Gingerbread Blondies

Gingerbread Blondies
makes one 8-inch pan

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (I use turbinado)

Vanilla Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square pan, line with parchment, and grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, and molasses. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt, and whisk until combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

While the blondies are cooling, make the garnish. In a small bowl, toss together candied ginger and coarse sugar. Set aside.

Make vanilla buttercream. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla and heavy cream.

Use an offset icing knife to frost bars. I like to do this in the pan so that the edges are clean. Scatter candied ginger garnish over the top.

Use overhang to carefully lift bars onto a cutting board. Gently peel back edges of the parchment. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into 16 bars, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

Serve blondies. Store leftovers in an airtight container with wax paper between layers. They will keep at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Gingerbread BlondiesGingerbread Blondies

Gingerbread Scones

Updated 12/20/2018: This post was edited to add better photos, and to double the cinnamon and the glaze (because double the glaze).Gingerbread SconesHello! How was your Christmas? I had a great time with my family in Texas. We decorated cookies, snuggled our beloved puppies (Stella, Mama Chiquita, and Haskell), and played many rounds of Gin Rummy. My sisters and I all cooked like crazy, and my sister-in-law was the world’s best soux chef. Oh, and we all rocked some sweet matching Snoopy pajamas. Yes, we are adults. But it’s Christmas, and Snoopy rules. It was so much fun–I am lucky to have family that is an absolute joy, rather than a chore, to visit. The weather was spring-like until Saturday night, when tornadoes tore through North Texas, bringing torrential downpours, hail, and snow in their wake. If you are reading from Texas, I hope you and those you hold dear are safe from harm and able to enjoy these last few days of 2015.Gingerbread SconesNow that I’ve bummed you all out, let’s get baking. I’ve made a lot of cookies in the last several weeks, and while I know cookies are synonymous with the holidays, I need a break. How about a coffee break? With Gingerbread Scones? Soft, spiced, not too sweet scones with a drizzle of vanilla glaze. They’re quick and simple–they can be on your table in less than an hour! They’re absolutely perfect for breakfasts this holiday week. Let’s get started.Gingerbread SconesGingerbread SconesGingerbread SconesScones really are a breeze. The only real rule is to keep the butter and liquid ingredients very cold. This is what keeps the scones flaky and delicious. These start with whisking two tablespoons of molasses into cold half-and-half and then putting that in the fridge. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together some flour, gingerbread spices, dark brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Next, take some very cold butter and use a pastry blender to cut it into the flour mixture until it’s the size of peas. Take that half-and-half mixture you’ve been chilling and stir it in. Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Really, go crazy with the flour because the dough will be sticky. Flour your hands and gently shape the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Flour the blade of a chef’s knife, and then cut the disc into eight wedges. Remove them to a pan, brush with more half-and-half, and bake at 425F until they spring back when poked with your finger, about fifteen minutes.Gingerbread SconesThese scones would be great by themselves, but gingerbread has to have icing as far as I’m concerned. There just has to be something to offset the spiciness of the ginger. Also, these scones aren’t very sweet, so they benefit from a touch of glaze. The glaze is very easy to whip up. Whisk together some confectioner’s sugar and salt, and then stir in some half-and-half and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle it over the cooling scones. I like to use a squeeze bottle, but a fork will do the trick. The glaze will start to set in just a few minutes and will be completely set in a couple of hours.These scones are best the day they’re made, but may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours. Unbaked scones may also be frozen for up to three months! I’ve written instructions in the recipe.Gingerbread SconesI hope you are enjoying this holiday week, and that you’ll make these Gingerbread Scones a part of your celebration! Now that it’s feeling more like winter in Texas and New York City, warm, spicy scones and a boatload of coffee will be your new favorite breakfast.Gingerbread Scones

Gingerbread Scones
adapted from Maple Scones from Dinner With Julie
makes 8 large scones

3/4 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons molasses*
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line one baking sheet with parchment. Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper or parchment. Set aside.

Use a fork to whisk together molasses and 3/4 cup half-and-half. Set the mixture in the refrigerator.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender* to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the largest bits are the size of peas. Remove the half-and-half mixture from the refrigerator and pour it into the bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until it just comes together.

Turn dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Using floured fingertips, press dough into a large 1-inch thick disc. Use a floured chef’s knife* to cut the circle into 8 wedges. Remove wedges to prepared pan, setting them at least two inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with additional half-and-half. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they “bounce back” when pressed with your finger. Remove them to the cooling rack.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and salt with a fork. Whisk in half-and-half and vanilla until combined.* Drizzle cooling scones with glaze. Scones may be served immediately, or after the glaze sets (about one hour).

Scones are best the day they’re made, but will keep covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Gingerbread Scones may be frozen up to three months. Simply freeze unbaked wedges of dough on a lined sheet pan and pile them into a labeled freezer bag. When you are ready to bake, brush the tops of the frozen wedges with half-and-half and bake for 17-22 minutes, until they spring back when poked with your finger. Then glaze and enjoy!


1. Use regular molasses, not blackstrap. I use Grandma’s Original or Brer Rabbit.
2. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you may use two forks.
3. Do not use a serrated knife.
4. If a thinner glaze is desired, add half-and-half by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached. If you’d like a thicker glaze, add confectioner’s sugar in 2 tablespoon installments until the desired consistency is reached.
Gingerbread SconesGingerbread SconesGingerbread Scones

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons

A few weeks ago, I posted a question on Facebook: “What are your favorite holiday cookies?” I got plenty of answers. Many said snickerdoodles and thumbprints and spritz. My friend, Anita, once again kept her family’s green tree cookies a secret. If you’ve ever had one, you can understand how badly I want that recipe. The last person I expected to hear from was my little sister, Eliot (aka “E3”). I’ve gone on and on about how we never had holiday cookies at all, but here she was with a suggestion: gingerbread men with chocolate buttons. No, these weren’t from our mother’s or grandmothers’ kitchens, but instead from Harper’s Blue Bonnet Bakery. If you grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, you know this place. It’s an institution, having been on Camp Bowie Boulevard since 1934. It’s open six days a week, sells countless varieties of pastries, breads, cakes, pies, and cookies, on top of a full lunch menu. And where many places with extensive menus are hit or miss, I’ve never had a thing from Blue Bonnet that wasn’t spectacular. If you’re nearby and haven’t been, go check it out and grab a gingerbread man while you’re at it. You see, their gingerbread men are special. They’re the size of your face, and the only adornments are three chocolate icing buttons piped in the middle. They don’t need anything more than that. The gingery cookie and touch of chocolate are a match made in heaven. And they’re available year-round, so seriously, go get one if you have the opportunity. But if, like me, you live too far away, you can make a very good version at home! Let’s get started.

These cookies start with a ton of flour, a hefty dose of spice, baking soda, and salt. Whisk those all together and set them aside to work on the wet ingredients. Cream some room temperature butter, and then add both light brown and granulated sugars. Next comes 3/4 cup of dark molasses, a room temperature egg, and some vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, divide the dough into quarters, and wrap each in plastic before putting them in the fridge for an hour. The dough is quartered because even after it’s chilled, it will still be a bit sticky thanks to all that molasses. Smaller pieces of wrapped dough will chill more thoroughly than if it were halved, and therefore make cookies easier to roll and cut. 

 Flour a surface, rolling pin, and 4″ gingerbread man cookie cutter. Once the dough has been chilled, take one quarter at a time and roll it to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough with the cookie cutter, and place cut cookies on prepared sheet pans. These cookies will spread a tiny bit, so make sure to set them at least one inch apart. Bake the gingerbread men at 350F for 10-12 minutes (mine are done at 10:30), until they just feel firm and are no longer raw-looking. Let them cool on the sheet pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. 

After you’ve baked all the cookies, make some chocolate royal icing. The icing begins with sifting confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder, and salt. Mix together some warm water and vanilla, and use an electric mixer to beat two tablespoons of it into the dry ingredients. It will be thick and look nothing like royal icing. Continue beating in liquid by the 1/2 teaspoon until your desired consistency has been reached. I like for mine to hold soft peaks. Load the chocolate royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a plain piping tip, and pipe on some buttons. If you want heavily frosted cookies, you can draw an outline around the edge and then flood the middle with icing that you’ve thinned with more water.

Royal icing takes a long time to dry, especially if it’s used for flooding cookies–it can take up to 24 hours. As these just have a bit of icing, I took a little shortcut. Lay the iced cookies in one layer on a sheet pan and then place them in a 150F oven for ten to fifteen minutes, until the buttons are hard to the touch. This shortcut only works well for cookies that haven’t been flooded with royal icing, as the flood icing tends to become wavy and distorted.

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons are excellent for gifting and entertaining during the holidays. Nobody will be able to resist these sweet, spicy cookies with a touch of chocolate! Their appearance may be less extravagant than the gingerbread men you see covered head-to-foot with royal icing, but these cookie simply don’t need that kind of adornment. To me, they are perfect.

Looking for more Twelve Days of Cookies? I’ve got you covered! Check out these Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Apple Cider Snaps, Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, and M&Ms Potato Chip Cookies. There are two more cookie recipes to come before Christmas Day!

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons
Chocolate Royal Icing from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle
makes 3.5 dozen cookies

4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed*
3/4 cup dark molasses*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Royal Icing:
1/2 pound (2 cups) confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
2 tablespoons meringue powder*
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons warm water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown and granulated sugars, followed by the molasses. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, frequently scraping down the bowl.

Divide dough into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least one hour or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Flour a surface and a rolling pin.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it, and roll it out on the floured surface, adding more flour as necessary. Dough will be a bit sticky. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the edge of a 4-inch cookie cutter in flour, then use it to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the tops no longer look wet. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Make the chocolate royal icing. Sift together confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder, and salt. Stir together vanilla and water. Add 2 tablespoons of the liquid to the dry ingredients, and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Continue beating the mixture for at least two minutes, stopping to add additional liquid by the 1/2 teaspoon until the desired consistency has been reached. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe on cooled cookies as desired.

Let frosted cookies sit at room temperature for several hours until dry, or place them on a sheet pan in one layer and put them in a 150F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the frosting is hard to the touch.

Cooled, frosted cookies keep covered at room temperature for at least a week.


1. Dark brown sugar may be substituted.
2. Do not use blackstrap molasses–it is too robust for this recipe.
3. You may use natural or Dutch Process cocoa.
4. I use Wilton, which can be found at craft and kitchen stores.

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons