Tag Archives: gingerbread cookies

No-Molasses Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

With Christmas officially behind us, the mad rush to clear Target’s 90% Off shelves in full swing, and 2014 lurking like a hungry panther right around the corner, one question has been ringing even louder than all the choruses of Jingle Bells and Batman Smells this year. The question: What holiday?”

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Of course, I’m biased. Who isn’t? The skull-crushing exam for which I am supposed to be productibaking is a whopping 90 days away, in the gloom of which I am packing, applying for fellowships, trying not to lose it as my parents pack for me, studying, unpacking, repacking, despairing, and then making like a really badly-done Loreal commercial: rinse, lather, repeat. 

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Oh, and my mom thinks I’ve officially gone insane with the amount of baking I’m doing these days. This may or may not be an accurate reflection of my mental well-being right now, but somehow the holidays don’t sound quite as cheery when you’re belting out “DECK THE HALLS WITH BOUGHS OF CRAZY” at the top of your voice.

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So. For the next 90 days or so, I may not be posting quite as much as I’d like to–but this may or may not be better for all of us. I’m not sure the internet needs another resident village idiot who spends her spare what-in-holy-heck-is-spare-time watching and reposting adorable baby animal memes like this Ocelot/Ocelittle and ridiculous Frozen gifs like this one (which just makes me hungry for pizza and other things I shouldn’t be eating right now, or so my post-Christmas thighs tell me). Or totally overthinking the fact that I am definitely the person sitting at the top of the seesaw in my precarious email correspondences of unequal power dynamics.

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What I really need right now is a giant T-Rex who will love me. And then one of these amazingly easy, no-molasses gingerbread cookies to remind me that every day deserves to be a holiday.

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I never keep molasses around the house, plain and simple. I don’t know what it is about molasses that scares me. I mean, it doesn’t scare me. But I never grew up with it, and I’ve never seen any reason to buy an entire whopping jug just so I can make gingerbread cookies one time throughout the year.

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If you’re like me and don’t hang around with the slowpokes (molasses–get it?), or if you’ve just happen to run out of molasses this season after going on a gingerbread house making binge: no problem. These should really be called no-problem gingerbread cookies because they are so forgiving, even a kitchen novice can make professional-looking and tasting cutout cookies that you can decorate with friends & family into the wee hours of 2014.

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The secret? Instant butterscotch pudding mix. Wait! If you don’t have that and don’t want to run to the store, you can whip up your own using a few simple ingredients (such as brown sugar, white sugar, cornstarch, and dry milk powder) that you’ll probably have hanging around your cheery cabinets anyway. Didn’t I tell you these were no-problemo wonder cookies?

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So whether you’re singing full harmony this season or battling the holiday existentialism blues like I am, these cookies are an easy must-make solution you won’t want to miss. Happy holidays to all, and to all a great cookie coma!


No-Molasses Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Biscuit recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (light will also work)
  • 1 (3.5 oz.) package instant butterscotch pudding mix* (See Notes for a DIY alternative that I used)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

* Note: For a DIY alternative to instant butterscotch pudding mix, use 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon white sugar, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1 1/2 tablespoons  nonfat dry milk powder, and a tiny pinch of salt. Combine these ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside to use in place of butterscotch pudding mix.


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in butterscotch pudding mix OR the DIY alternative (see Note above).
  2. Mix in egg. Add remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon) and mix in until just incorporated.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour, until firm enough to roll out easily. You can also toss it in the freezer for 20 minutes to speed up this process.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease cookie sheets and set aside.
  5. Break off 1/4 of the dough and place it on a well-floured cutting board. Return the rest to the refrigerator so that it does not soften too much in the meantime. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough until it is fairly thin, about 1/8-inch thin. Cut out shapes using cookie cutter and carefully transfer to prepared sheet. Repeat and continue this process until you have used all of your dough, or run out of room on cookie sheets.
  6. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they turn golden brown on the bottom and are pretty firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving, icing, or decorating as creatively as you’d like!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies

7 Days Until Christmas: Orange Cheesecake Gingerbread Blondies

Playful, chilly winds nip our ears and prick our exposed noses. Straggling students wrap scarves around their heads in the fashion of ancient, entombed Egyptians. And as the days dwindle into the single digits, you can almost hear the wintertime choirs burst out into song and chime…

Seven days until Christmas!

That, my friends, is the stocking that’s Santa’s going to fill with lots of nice goodies for a very nice girl this year (a.k.a. yours truly):

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Wait…seven days?! That’s exactly one week!

In honor of this momentous occasion, which occurs once every 364 1/4 days in a year–something it shares in common with Leprechaun’s Day, National Talk Like a Pirate Day, and your Auntie Mabel’s birthday–I’ve compiled a list of 7 holiday traditions that, for some reason or another, just never seemed to make the cut…

Zesty Orange Cheesecake Gingerbread Blondies (12.17.12)

7. Naughty or Naughtier: Draw from a hat of “naughty” deeds and perform them in front of your friends! But it gets better–in order to win, your friends have to out-naughty your naughty deed. Do you have what it takes to get yourself in the top spot on Santa’s naughty list this year?

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6. Hot Space Heater: Want to turn up the heat this year on family & friends fun day? Play this season-appropriate version of “Hot Potato” with your closest enemies. All you need are some rockin’ Christmas tunes and a preheated warmer–toss the space heater around in a circle until it gets too hot to handle! For extra excitement, make sure to invite your in-laws and that second cousin, twice removed that you never really liked.

5. Turkey Deep-Frying Competition: Get your frying vats ready–this is one sizzling holiday game! See who can fry their turkies the fastest; the hotter the stove, the hotter the game! (In order to qualify, participants must fry their turkies whole, preferably in a crowded space where flying oil and raging tempers will be an issue.)

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4. Santa Pause: Do nothing but stare at the fireplace for as long as you can stand. Good party game for up to 90 players, and particularly for those of 90+ years. Sleeping with eyes wide open permitted.

3. Rudolph the Red No’s-Brainer: It’s costume time! Get a nice rosy glow going on those wintry noses by roasting a whole tomato under the broiler. Then pass around the scorching-hot tomatoes and have every member of your party don one–you may find that your red nose will not be artificial for very long!

2. Elf’s Workshop: Gang up against the youngest (or smallest) member of your family and make them do all the holiday preparations around the house while the rest of you sip hot chocolate and sing “Deck the Halls” in cheery, obnoxious voices. Possible supplies include a giant nametag that reads “And to think I used to wish I could be Santa’s elf” for your house elf to wear, or giant marshmallows that you can command your elf to toast for you “in the name of Santa Claus.”

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1. S’mores Wars: Do you long to have a snowball fight but find it too cold to step outside? Never fear, marshmallows are here! Heat up marshmallows in the microwave for up to 5 seconds–they should expand like crazy Pillsbury dough-boys. Whip them out and chuck ‘em at whoever happens to pass by the kitchen–they’ll never know what hit them!

What is your number one favorite holiday game/activity? Leave your thoughts, and look out for some more Countdown to Christmas posts!


Orange Cheesecake Gingerbread Blondies
Yield: 1 9×9-inch baking pan
  • For gingerbread blondie:
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • For orange cheesecake:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 1/2 medium orange
  • Juice of 1/2 medium orange (or approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted (for chocolate swirl)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in one egg and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; stir until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips. Pour into greased 9×9-inch baking pan. 
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and white sugar until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg, orange zest, and orange juice. Spread evenly over gingerbread blondie batter.
  3. Drop dollops of melted chocolate over cheesecake batter. Swirl in with tip of a knife.
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until edges begin to turn slightly golden brown and cheesecake is fairly set. Allow to cool at room temperature before cutting into squares. Place in fridge and allow to firm up for at least an additional hour before removing from pan. Store leftover bars in fridge.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Brownies & Chocolates, Cheesecakes

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs

I love the holiday season for many, many reasons. I’m sure you do, too.

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Holding a very special place at the top of this list is the fact that, as soon as Thanksgiving ends, I get to cram my Santa elf-ear hat on my head, flip on the Christmas song station, and belt out the following line without the slightest trace of irony whatsoever:

“Your soul is an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots.”

Except “knots” sounds more like “naaaaAAAAAaaaahhhwtzzz,” and Thurl Ravenscroft sounds about a bajillion times better singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” than I do.

Seriously–if I had to choose one person to narrate my life, it would be him. Have you heard the man sing?

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Perhaps on my less-fond holiday season list (if such a thing exists–which it really can’t) is the end-of-the-term rush to get things typed, stapled, and shipped off into the wild unknown of academia’s bureaucratic abysses. I was told that we won’t be getting our students’ evaluations back until as late as 8th week of next year.

It’s a wonder I’m not more of a Grinch myself.

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On the contrary, however–I’ve been embracing this holiday season as if it were a friggin’ human-sized Pooh Bear.

Last night, my friends and I went to the candlelight procession at Disneyland. It was hosted by none other than Dick Van Dyke, sir Bert from Mary Poppins! Better yet, it was the grand man’s birthday: the best part of the night was when he stepped up to the podium at the front of town square, and suddenly a hum starting from the middle of this humongous crowd begins to grow. And suddenly, we’re all singing “Happy Birthday to Diiiiiick,” and, well–if that’s not a magical, holiday-filled moment, I really don’t know what is.

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles with Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs

I’m still dead beat from this week–I realize that I haven’t whipped up anything in the kitchen that’s really excited me for quite some time. As I’m grading these final exams and counting down the minutes until I can hop on the plane homeward bound, I’m actually absorbing very little of what’s in front of me and thinking very much about whether it would be indecent to throw gingerbread cookies, cookie butter, and zesty orange cheesecake into the same baking pan together.

I have a feeling I can keep Santa from putting me on the naughty list if I just leave out a plate of these for him this year.

You’ve really got to try it–my friends absolutely melted when they tasted it, and if you have a particularly hungry Santa Claus (or other secular holiday spirit!) hanging around your house, you’ll definitely want to keep these easy peasy treats on hand.

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Ho ho ho, and look forward to some really fun holiday swing posts again soon!

(I nabbed this delicious pumpkin pound cake recipe from the lovely blog I Wash, You Dry. Give it a try, too!)

Pumpkin Pound Cake Truffles w/Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs
Pumpkin pound cake recipe–as written at I Wash You Dry
For the pumpkin pound cake:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice


  1. Pull out the eggs, butter, and yogurt and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Grease and lightly flour an 8″x4″x2.5″ cake pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat for a minute on high speed. Gradually add the sugar and let it mix on medium-high speed for 10 minutes. You’ll have to scrap the sides of the bowl every once and a while. You’re looking for a very light and fluffy butter mixture.
  5. Once you’re butter is light and fluffy add the vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add one egg at a time, beating for 1 minute between each egg.
  7. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Sift together to combine.
  8. Alternately add the flour mixture, Greek yogurt, and pumpkin puree to the bowl of the stand mixer. Remember to scrap the sides of the bowl occasionally to make sure it’s being properly mixed.
  9. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
  10. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake at 325 for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and let cool to room temperature. Once cake is completely cool, cover and let sit over night or enjoy right away.
  12. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces and drizzle with salted caramel sauce.
  13. To make truffles, cube cooled pumpkin pound cake and freeze for at least 1 hour, or until very firm.

To assemble truffles:

  • 2 (12 oz.) bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Gingerbread cookies, crushed
  1. Melt 1 bag of chocolate at a time by placing in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for 30 seconds, then continuing to heat at 15-second intervals and stirring vigorously between each interval until chocolate chips are completely melted. Dip frozen pumpkin pound cake cubes in chocolate and quickly coat. Remove onto parchment paper and top with crushed gingerbread cookies or other holiday cookies of your choice. Allow chocolate to firm up before serving! (You can store these at room temperature in an air-tight container for at least a few days; keep them in the fridge for up to a week.)


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates