December 16, 2015

Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies

If you've ever been to Colonial Williamsburg, you most likely remember the awesome gingerbread cookies that are sold in the little shop behind Raleigh Tavern. To me, they are all that gingerbread should be. The perfect blend of spices, aroma and texture in a cookie that screams "Christmas" yet is too good not to eat all year long. My recipe is inspired by these delightful cookies.

colonial williamsburg, gingerbread, gingerbread cookies

These cookies bring back great memories of Colonial Williamsburg for me. It's one of my absolute favorite places. The old houses, architecture, gardens, shops, costumes and decorations are amazing to see. I love stepping back in time to see what our country was once like. You can't help but feel like you're stepping back in time when you're there! The various taverns have some good food and drinks, too. The gingerbread cookies are one of my first stops on visits. I'm always sure to get extras to bring home. I don't make it there very often though, so with this recipe I make my own at home!

colonial williamsburg, gingerbread, gingerbread cookies

On a random message board, I recently found a comment posted years ago with a recipe the author claimed to be the original one the Williamsburg bakers use. My recipe is very similar, but with changes, as to me the one on the message board didn't have the flavor profile I remember. They were more bland and floury.

Unlike many gingerbreads, these are so easy to make. Unless you burn them, there's really no way to mess them up either. How long you bake them just determines how soft or crunchy they are. Either way, they're good! And that's coming from me, Mrs. Doesn't-Usually-Like-Crunchy-Cookies. I can't stop eating these, though. M2 adores them, too. She eats cookie after cookie until I hide them away.

The dough doesn't have to be chilled at all. Simply whip up a batch of dough, roll them out and start cutting. The dough is soft and stretchy without being sticky. I don't have to add any flour to the rolling surface or rolling pin when I get to that part. Since there aren't any eggs in the dough, it's a good dough to eat raw, too. M2 kept sneaking bits of it while I was rolling it out! It's really a pretty quick recipe to throw together. The cutouts take the most time.

The gingerbread cookies in Colonial Williamsburg are kept simple with no decoration and are all round. I had a bit more fun with mine, cutting them into various shapes. If you want, you can sprinkle on some powdered sugar or add icing. I kept mine traditional in that respect.

Since they are a cut out cookie, it's possible to make mini cookies from this gingerbread. The mini ones are fun for the kids to eat and cut down on how much you're eating (as long as you don't eat a ton to compensate for the size). The cookies don't spread much while baking, they go up more than anything, so as long as you leave a little space between each you can load up the cookies sheets to get them baked faster. I use silicone baking mats (there's a link to them below) to keep the bottoms from getting dark or too crispy.

Just like in Colonial Williamsburg where you can get their gingerbread cookies year round, these cookies are tasty at any time. Around Christmas they're just extra special. Grab a few, put them on a festive holiday plate, heat up a cup of hot chocolate or pour a cold cup of eggnog and slip into the Christmas spirit with these Colonial Williamsburg gingerbread cookies.

colonial williamsburg, gingerbread, gingerbread cookies
Other Cookie Recipes
Be sure to check out my recipes for these other great holiday cookie treats:
Big & Chewy Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Meltaway Spritz Butter Cookies
Snickerdoodle Specials 
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies (Coming soon!)
Best-Ever Peanut Butter Blossoms

Baking Tricks
These are the silicone baking mats I use for cookies and LOVE. They are also great for cooking chicken and other foods in the oven. The baking sheets hold up well, I've had my set for a few years now. I'd be lost without my KitchenAid mixer, attachments and a good set of wooden spoons, too!

Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies

by The Stay-at-Home Life
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 9-11 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert low-sodium nut-free cinnamon nutmeg ginger Christmas Thanksgiving cookie American fall spring summer winter

Ingredients (Yield depends on size of cutters)

  • 1 cup unsulphered molasses
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 cups flour


In a mixing bowl, mix molasses, evaporated milk, butter, salt and sugar until well combined
Add ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking soda to the mixture
Slowly add the flour one cup at a time, mixing constantly
Mix until well combined, plus a few more minutes to achieve a smooth texture
With rolling pin, roll dough to 1/4 inch sheet and cut with cookie cutters of any shape and size
Place on cookie sheet, they can be close together as long as there's a bit of space in between
Bake at 375 for 9 minutes for softer cookies, bake longer, up to 11 minutes, for crunchier cookies
Since there is no egg, you can make the cookies as soft as you'd like. Under 9 minutes will give you a more cake-like cookie
Optional: Dust cookies with confectioner's sugar
Cool for two minutes then remove from cookie sheet onto cooling rack
Cookies can be stacked on each other to cool
Once cool, pack in an air-tight container or baggies
The cookies keep for a long time so they are great to make in advance

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  1. I've been looking for a gingerbread cookie recipe for the longest time! Thanks for sharing, can't wait to try these with the kids!

    1. Let me know how you like them! :) Of all the cookies I made this year, these were M2's and my nephew's favorite.


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