Christmas gingerbread cookies on vintage plate and anise, cinnamon, pine cones, cedar branches with golden lights on rustic table. Baked traditional gingerbread man, tree, star cookies

The holidays are a time to share stories and food. And many of our favorite holiday treats would be the same without real sugar. Not only does sugar make the cookies sweet, it also impacts the texture and color of the cookies. This classic holiday treat also include a co-product of sugar refining, molasses. Molasses is naturally present in both sugar beet and sugar cane plants, but the molasses we use in our food supply is from sugar cane. It is spun off the raw sugar in a centrifuge to separate it from the sugar crystals. Molasses is also what gives brown sugar its color and flavor. Read more about the types of sugar made from sugar beet and sugar cane here.

For the cookies:

For the frosting:

  1. Use a mixer to cream the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves until the mixture resembles a thick frosting with no streaks of butter. Beat in the molasses, then the egg, until the batter is creamy and loose.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then add to the batter. Beat on low speed, then use a stiff spatula to mix in the flour remaining on the sides of the bowl.
  3. Divide the cookie dough into three pieces. Pat each one into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour. When ready to bake the cookie, heat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle the counter with flour and place one unwrapped disk on top. Sprinkle the dough and a rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out as many cookies as will fit and transfer them to baking sheets. If the leftover dough in cool, re roll the scraps and cut out more cookies; if not, pat the scraps into a disk and refrigerate.
  4. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Continue rolling, cutting and baking the remaining cookie dough.
  5. When ready to frost, stir the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract into a smooth icing. Transfer the icing to squeeze bottles using a funnel. If the icing seems too thick, squeeze the bottle and, if needed, stir in more milk 1 teaspoon at a time until workable. [No squeeze bottle? Try a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.]
  6. Decorate the gingerbread cookies. If you’re adding any candies, place these while the frosting is still wet.

[Recipe adapted from]

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