It’s a question I’ve wondered as a recipe developer—most recently creating these fabulous-if-I-do-say-so-myself Gingerbread Scones and, a year or two ago, working on these Sweetpotato Gingerbread Cookies. So perhaps you’ve wondered it too. What is gingerbread anyway?
Technically, gingerbread, a noun, is a cake made with ginger and molasses. But over time, it’s become an adjective too. The flavors of that cake have been adapted into something we call a gingerbread cookie. And that cookie dough, or a stronger version of it, has been adapted into something we call a gingerbread house. And more recently, into everything else. (Lip balm!)
(A quick shout out to the Neuchatz family, friends and neighbors when I was growing up, who always had a gingerbread house around the holidays and who introduced this Jewish kid to the joy of both marveling at it and then helping to eat it.)
But what is gingerbread as a flavor? That’s what I wondered, especially as the weather turned cooler and I started thinking that warming, spicy Gingerbread Scones would be a pretty nice way to start the day. Working to perfect them, it became clear.
Ginger, of course, and lots of it. Luckily, it comes in lots of forms. I used both powdered and candied in my scones.
Warming and even sort of sharp spiciness. So cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and sometimes even pepper are common.
Sweetness, but again in a sharp and also sort of hearty, rich way. So molasses and/or brown sugar (which is white sugar + molasses) is key. Some recipes use honey or maple syrup, but those didn’t quite deliver the intensity I was looking for.
Last but not least, this is a holiday treat. So a gingerbread-y thing should have a festive flourish, be it whipped cream on a cake, icing on a cookie, or sparkling sugar on a scone.
Cake, cookie, latte, lip balm, scone. Whatever the format, that’s gingerbread.
Here’s wishing you deliciously happy holidays—gingerbread and all!
Recipes for happy holidays:
Holiday Cranberry Orange Granola
Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Candied Ginger and Mixed Nuts
Checkerboard Butter Cookies
Lavender Butter Cookies
Salted Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies
Hazelnut, Milk Chocolate, and Cherry Icebox Cookies
Easy, Inspired Truffles
Easy Orange Marmalade Bars
Bay-Infused Chocolate Pot de Crème
Rosemary Meyer Lemon Drop
Smell the Roses Cosmo
Smoked Salmon Salad on Toasts
Five-Spice Crab and Shrimp Cocktails
Baked Chevre with Herbes de Provence Breadcrumbs
Spinach Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
Classic Roast Chicken with Roast Potatoes
Lemon- and Prosciutto-Stuffed Pork Loin
Pomegranate Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
Spiced Brisket with Shallots and Tangerines