is an award-winning culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s also penned Young Reader, NASCAR, and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill. You can reach out to Kent at The Deck Chef – website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Gingerbread cookies and the Christmas holiday season go hand in hand! You have gingerbread cookies, houses, men, muffins, cakes, and more! There are soft cookie versions, crunchy “snap” cookie versions, and plain or decorated ones. The options are wide open for whatever your taste buds are craving.
But if you’ve ever been afraid of trying a new cookie recipe out from scratch then set your cookie crumble fears aside! Here’s a recipe that uses an off-the-shelf cake mix as the base for perfect gingerbread cookies. And, there is a HUGE HACK that can’t be ignored. I’ll include it in the directions below.
Now, let’s get started on making a batch of gingerbread cookies!
Why Gingerbread Men?
Have you ever wondered why people make gingerbread man cookies? The origins of the gingerbread man cookie go back to America in 1875 and a story that appeared in St. Nicholas magazine for children. The tale was about a childless older woman that bakes a gingerbread man. As she rests, she wishes for a son, when she wakes, she opens the oven and the Gingerbread man/boy jumps from her oven and runs away.
Long story short, the gingerbread man/boy is kind of a jerk and taunts farm animals and others while also outrunning the woman and her husband. Eventually, he can’t outrun a crafty fox who eats him. The message is – Hey kids, obey your parents or bad things can happen to you! Plus, what better way to spread that message than to make cookies?
This recipe comes from my wife Allison who has made these cookies for years. We’ve used the recipe during cooking demos, and TV appearances, and used variations of it in several of my cookbooks including the Georgia Hometown Cookbook.
2 medium eggs, rest at room temperature
1 box spice cake mix, your favorite brand
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup molasses – or honey if desired
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, not self-rising
2 ½ teaspoons ginger, ground
Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. It will not be a pourable cake mixture but a thick cookie dough with texture. Here’s the HACK of the day! Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour. This makes it much easier to work and roll out when you are making your cookies.
Roll on a lightly floured cutting board to just under 1/2″ – or pinch into equal-sized balls, roll gently, and then flatten. You can use cookie cutters of course! Sprinkle with white powdered sugar if desired. Now, bake on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Check doneness at around 7-8 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet before decorating.
Easy Icing Drizzle
This is a tasty quick and easy vanilla icing drizzle that’s perfect for cookies and all types of pastries.
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon melted butter
Combine in a bowl while adding the milk in small portions. Whisk, and then add a few more drops of milk, and whisk again. Continue until you get your desired thickness and consistency.
These cookies are packed with flavor and are easy to make! We’ve even used a shortbread mold with this gingerbread cookie dough. Of course, it was not a true shortbread, but it made for a different presentation. Have fun making cookies which is always great to do with family – especially younger ones during the Christmas and Holiday season.