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Feb 21, 2017 6:38am

Julia Usher baking in her home kitchen
Blog Recipes and Tips From Julia Usher

Cutout Cookie Gingerbread

High on spice yet relatively delicate in texture, this dough is perfect for 2-D cookies and small-scale 3-D construction projects, like my sandwiched baskets and Fabergé egg cookies shown here. It also spreads less than my Signature Sugar Cookie Dough (recipe in my books), making it more suitable for tight-fitting angular constructions, such as boxes, cornets, blocks . . . basically any cookie creation with corners! And how does it do with contouring?! Yep, it’s great for that too - minimal, if any, cracking, even when flexed into highly curvy shapes.

Yield: About 3 pounds dough or 6 1/2 to 7 dozen (2 1/2-inch) round cookies

Prep Talk: For easiest handling, the dough should be chilled about 3 hours before rolling and cutting. The dough can be frozen for 1 month or more with minimal loss of flavor if wrapped tightly in plastic and then foil. For best eating, store baked cookies in airtight containers at room temperature and enjoy within 1 to 1 1/2 weeks. 

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups unsifted all-purpose flour*
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda**
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (1 8-ounce stick) shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup mild molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

* Note 1: Measure the flour by spooning it into the cup and then leveling; alternatively, weigh the flour for more accuracy. 1 cup flour measured this way weighs about 4.8 ounces or 136 grams.
** Note 2: For 3-D curved cookies or ones where you want very little (to no) spreading, cut the baking soda in half.

Method:

1 | Stir the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside for use in Step 4.

2 | Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the shortening and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed, to ensure even mixing.

3 | Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the molasses and vinegar. Mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.

4 | Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix just to combine; however, make sure there are no dry spots.

5 | Flatten the dough into a disk (or two disks for easier handling). Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate about 3 hours, or until firm enough to roll without sticking.

6 | Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silicone baking mats) and set aside.

7 | Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8- to 3/16-inch thickness. (Note: It’s best to roll these cookies no thicker than 3/16 inch in order to keep them their flattest for decorating.) Cut out assorted shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets with an offset spatula, leaving no less than 3/4 inch between each cutout.

8 | Baking time will vary considerably with cookie size and thickness. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch and lightly browned around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes for 2 1/2-inch round cookies. Let particularly long or delicately shaped cookies cool 1 to 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks. Otherwise, immediately transfer the cookies. Cool completely before frosting and/or assembling with Royal Icing or storing.

Coriander Seed Variation:

Since I’ve forever been infatuated with my mom’s Anise Seed Variation of Signature Sugar Cookie Dough (in my books), a similar whole seed spin on this gingerbread seemed like the next most logical twist!

Follow the steps above, except sprinkle each cookie sheet with 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed or coarsely ground coriander seeds before placing and baking the cookies in Step 7.

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hello loved knowing your work!
Want to try your recipe but do not understand what would be
‘1 cup (1 stick) shortening’
And an ingredient that does not know and in my translation would be
  ‘Shortened’
Maybe I translated wrong
Thank you if you can help me
Hug!
Andreia

By andreia on March 01, 2014

Hi, Andreia, Thanks for the kind words about my work. “Shortening” is hydrogenated vegetable (often soybean) oil. It is a solid white, creamy substance at room temperature. It has a higher melting point than butter, which means cookies with it are likely to spread less and be a touch crisper than all-butter cookies. The primary brand of shortening here in the US is Crisco; Trex is another brand often found in Europe. Hope this helps.

By Julia M Usher on March 01, 2014

hi im from mexico and i dont know where or what is the shortening ?? can i sustitute it

By Lackshmi Marroquin on March 31, 2014

Hi, Lackshmi - As noted in the comment directly above: “Shortening” is hydrogenated vegetable (often soybean) oil. It is a solid white, creamy substance at room temperature. It has a higher melting point than butter, which means cookies with it are likely to spread less and be a touch crisper than all-butter cookies. The primary brand of shortening here in the US is Crisco; Trex is another brand often found in Europe. I believe you can get Crisco in Mexico, though not 100 percent sure. I also believe manteca vegetal cristal is basically the same thing.

By Julia M Usher on April 01, 2014

Dear Julia, praise, cookie the is fantastic. If you can closer tell me what is actually “mild molasses”?
Thank you in advance
Diana

By Diana on April 16, 2014

Hi, Diana, I use a milder, sweeter molasses like Grandma’s brand (http://www.grandmasmolasses.com/) as opposed to darker, more bitter “blackstrap” varieties. Hope this helps.

By Julia M Usher on April 16, 2014

hola, solo quiero decirte que dios bendiga tus manos, es hermoso lo que haces, un fuerte abrazo

By alba on August 24, 2014

Hola, Alba! Thank you for the very kind words! :)

By Julia M Usher on August 24, 2014

Hello Julia!  I just wanted to write and tell how how much I have enjoyed learning your icing and cookie techniques.  I have always had a love of baking and you just too me to a whole new level of decorating.  You are truly a gifted artist and been blessed with a beautiful gift.  Keep up the good work and continue to inspire us all out there!

By Vicky Fornito on October 12, 2014

Vicky - thank you so much for taking the time to write such a nice note. I really appreciate the kind words and am thrilled to know I am being of some help. :)

By Julia M Usher on October 13, 2014

Hi Julia
Absolutely love your work… When watching your tutorials I be in total amazement.  I have two questions… My first question is, can I use Crisco butter flavor in your Gingerbread Cookie recipe?... Second question, where can I get frosting paper with such vibrant patterns? Do you order them online?

By Valerie Jones on October 20, 2014

Hi, Valerie - Thanks so much for the kind words! To answer your questions:

1) Yes, that substitution should be fine.
2) If you mean the papers shown on the contoured baskets directly above (I have used other types and brands of colorful papers on other projects), then those are Designer Prints brand frosting sheets that are available from several online sources. I typically get them from Country Kitchen Sweet Art (nice variety of frosting sheets and also good service). These frosting sheets are quite sheer, just an FYI; I sometimes back them with plain white frosting sheets, because you can see dark cookies through them.

By Julia M Usher on October 20, 2014

Hello Julia! I have thoroughly enjoyed watching your tutorials, thank you so much for sharing your ideas and techniques. I have a question regarding the flavor of the cookie dough, I am not a fan of gingerbread or the spices in your dough of choice, and you said that your sugar cookie dough spreads out, any chance I can make it without the spices without altering the consistency? I don’t mind the molasses.
Thank you, again!

By Rima on October 25, 2014

Hi, Rima - Thanks so much. Just to be clear, I use gingerbread in most of my videos because my other sugar cookies recipes are only available for sale in my books and app. I don’t post every recipe for free, because I have these other products that I sell. So, gingerbread isn’t, per se, my cookie recipe of choice. But that particular recipe does indeed work very well for CONTOURED cookie shapes, as it spreads slightly less than my sugar cookie dough and is therefore less prone to cracking when baked around odd shapes. My sugar cookie/shortbread recipe(s) actually hold their shape quite well for normal flat cookies. They are just not as foolproof for shaping.

That all said, you could try taking out all the spice; I imagine the recipe would behave similarly - though I have not tried it. Let me know how it works for you. Thanks again for tuning in!

By Julia M Usher on October 25, 2014

Hi again Julia! I had asked you earlier about the spices in this recipe, but then I actually went ahead and made your recipe as is. Two days later when I went to roll it out, it was cracking from the get go, so I rolled it up into a ball again and re rolled it out and cut to the 6in circle, it looked good, but as soon as I placed it on the 4in cake pan it cracked and fell apart! I’m not sure why! I have baked before and I am good at following recipes and directions. I used crisco and grand ma’s molasses! The dough was still somewhat soft when I took it out of the fridge, it wasn’t hard like sugar cookie dough would be, could that be the reason? If so, should I freeze a bit it first?
Thank you, again.
Rima

By Rima on November 02, 2014

Hi, Rima, Without being there to watch what you did from start to finish, it can be hard to diagnose trouble like this. The dough is somewhat soft, but perhaps you mis-measured the flour or something else?? I usually have no handling issues with this dough and there’s no need to freeze it first to handle it. I measure by the scoop-and-scrape method - scoop unsifted flour into the cup, gently tap it into the cup once or twice, then scrape/level the top. (Eventually I need to convert this recipe to oz/gm, but it was originally written for my book here in the US, where scales are not as commonly used by home cooks.) You can also try dusting your surface more generously with flour, as that can sometimes make it easier to move larger pieces without cracking. But don’t add too much, as too much flour will eventually dry the dough and exacerbate cracking issues. Then it’s possible the recipe didn’t take well to you putting no spices in it, but I don’t know why that would be - though I call for a lot so they could have a little drying effect on the dough. Hope this helps.

By Julia M Usher on November 02, 2014

Hello there! I just wanted to say first that your work is incredible and those contoured baskets really caught my eye, so my weekend project is that. So I started making the dough that you use, and I only made 1/2 batch, I didn’t cool it in the fridge yet but started to roll it out right away, there wasn’t any problem with that until I started picking up my piece and it all cracked apart in 3-4 different places. Is the end result of the batter supposed to be somewhat dry?
I did now put it in the fridge for a few hours so see if that will help anything but what are your thoughts and tips on this?

By Amanda on November 15, 2014

Hi, Amanda, my gingerbread (Cutout Cookie Gingerbread) dough is actually pretty soft, so chilling should make it easier to handle. I usually chill a few hours; then work the dough a bit in my hands before rolling it out with a little flour, and I have no trouble rolling it. Let me know if this works for you - but these are my best suggestions without having seen you make it.

By Julia M Usher on November 15, 2014

Hello Julia! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, recipes and techniques.
Could you tell me please 1 cup (1 stick) shortening how much will be in grams? I’ve tried a few converters and they give different results: 113 or 205 g. So I am a little bit confused.
I also want to know can I make a gingerbread house from this dough?
Thanks in advance for the answers.
Regards,
Lina

By Lina on November 23, 2014

Hi, Lina. A cup of shortening is about 6.8 ounces or 191.4 g. Yes, you can use this gingerbread for smaller 3-D constructions, including houses. It’s not the most durable gingerbread, but if you reinforce the backs of pieces with a thin layer of royal icing, it should hold up well.

By Julia M Usher on November 23, 2014

Hi Julia love youre ideas and one question is. If this are able to be eaten if they arre not that harrd?

By zayda ruiz on November 23, 2014

Hi Julia

This may seem like a ridiculous question but do you make your amazing cookie creations to be eaten? Or are they designed and created just for decorations?

Thanks so much

Valerie

By Valerie Jones on November 23, 2014

Hi, Zayda and Valerie - Yes, my cookie creations are designed to be eaten as well as admired. I bake the gingerbread so it is crisp and holds well (for construction purposes), but I prefer a crispy cookie to soft, pasty ones.

By Julia M Usher on November 23, 2014

Hi Julia, Love your work.

Quick question about the Mild Molasses. Can you tell me what it is please as I cant seem to find it here in the UK.

Many thanks and happy holidays!

Naba

By Naba on November 26, 2014

Hi Julia ..
Me a great fan of yours.I love your cookie transfers . Have a doubt,
  Can I use butter instead of shortening ?
thanks

By Rajeena on November 26, 2014

Hi, Naba, it’s basically boiled sugar cane juice that’s less dark and robust-flavored than other stronger varieties of molasses. The process of making it is described in the link that I added to the ingredient list (also here: http://www.grandmasmolasses.com/products/grandmas-original-molasses); this link also directs to the brand of molasses that I typically use. It may be hard to find in Europe, but it is widely available online. Thanks.

By Julia M Usher on November 29, 2014

Thanks, Rajeena! I don’t recommend substituting butter for shortening, as they are not the same thing and behave very differently (as I explained in one of the comments further up this page). If you do, you should expect these cookies to spread more and to be softer.

By Julia M Usher on November 29, 2014

Olá Julia,
Escrevo a voce do Brasil para cumprimenta-la por suas maravilhosas criações. Sou uma grande admiradora de seus magníficos trabalhos.

Um abraço,
Aurea

By Aurea Schmidt on December 08, 2014

Oh, thank you so much, Aurea! I very much appreciate your kind words!

By Julia M Usher on December 08, 2014

Hi Julia! Tomorrow I’ll be trying this recipe, thanks for your tutorials, you’re a genious!

By Agustina on December 22, 2014

Ahh, thanks so much, Agustina! That’s quite a compliment! Happy baking!

By Julia M Usher on December 22, 2014

Hi Julia,

I love your work and attention to detail!  Your video tutorials are awesome! Would love to know if you would mind sharing how to make true red and black royal icing? I currently use cocoa powder for both, but if you aren’t going for the Choc. flavor it really isn’t the best option.  Is there a dye brand you recommend that doesn’t require using cocoa powder?  Thank you in advance for sharing and for your quick reply.

Kindest Regards,
Audrey Kramer

By Audrey Kramer on December 24, 2014

Hi Julia,

Quick ? What does adding vinegar in the cookie dough do?

Thanks for your quick reply.

Happy Holidays!
Audrey

By Audrey Kramer on December 24, 2014

Hi, Audrey. Thanks for the kind words about my videos. Sorry for the delayed response, but I was taking a few days off over the holidays. Hope you had a good one!

1) I’ve never added cocoa to darken colors. I work with Chefmaster liqua-gel colors and find they darken more than adequately w/o affecting the taste too much. (Some flavoring is always needed with royal icing though, in my opinion.)

2) The acid (vinegar) activates the baking soda (baking soda + acid = baking powder) and acts, in conjunction with the soda, as the leavener. Without it, the dough will be very stiff/firm and will not spread at all.

By Julia M Usher on December 26, 2014

Good day, I am from South Africa and we struggle to get shortening. Can I substitute with butter and if yes how much.

I love your work! It is absolutely incredible.

Greetings

By Martie van Gass on March 03, 2015

Hi, Martie! First, thanks for the kind words and for following my work. Much appreciated!

Your question was already asked/answered further up the page, so re-posting my answer here:

I don’t recommend substituting butter for shortening, as they are not the same thing and behave very differently (as I explained in one of the comments further up this page). If you do, you should expect these cookies to spread more and to be softer.

Plus, some new, additional notes:

At this time, I haven’t done a butter substitution for this recipe, but if you were to substitute, you’d need to alter other ingredients (likely the flour and leavening) to get similar results. I may test this variation in the future, but unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly when.

By Julia M Usher on March 03, 2015

Good day !!

I tried to translate the text of the recipe below and could not understand what the two words marked with uppercase letter below:

ingredients:

5 cups flour unsifted *
Ginger powder 2 1/2 teaspoons
Ground cinnamon 1 1/4 teaspoons
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt tea
1 cup ( 1 stick ) SHORTER
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup MOLASSES LIGHT
2 tablespoons white vinegar

If you can help me I would be very grateful .

roselaine

By roselaine de freitas on March 19, 2015

Hi, Roselaine, If you click on both of those words (they’re hyperlinked), you’ll be taken to other websites that sell those products, and which describe exactly what they are. The first is hydrogenated vegetable oil,  which has a higher melting point than butter, and so helps these cookies to hold their shape very well. The latter is boiled sugar cane syrup, a dark, rich brown sweetener, which also adds color.

By Julia M Usher on March 19, 2015

I am delighted with the wonders of this woman !!
What fairy hands !!

If I ever get to 50 % of that perfection will be very accomplished. :)

This recipe is for normal cookies ?? Or is a special recipe only for 3D cookies ??
I found another recipe that you can use .
That would be my question .

Thank you .
Roselaine

By Roselaine on March 19, 2015

Hi again, Roselaine!

Thanks so much for the very nice words! :)

I use this recipe for normal flat cookies as well; it works well for 3-D but also for 2-D. I have several other recipes that I use for rolled cookies too, but they are not published online; they are only available for sale in my books and app. Those recipes can also work for 3-D cookies, though they tend to spread and crack more unless some of the leavening is removed. I hope I’ve answered your questions.

By Julia M Usher on March 19, 2015

I’ve been using this exact recipe since college (12 years, not that I’m old or anything!) and the results are fabulous every time.  I have to make at least one batch every year or it’s not even Christmas!  Now that I know the amazing things that can be done with the dough, I will have to step up my game for 2015!  Thanks for the inspiration.

By Virginia G on April 06, 2015

Thanks again, Virginia. Can’t wait to see what you create!

By Julia M Usher on April 06, 2015

Hi Julia,
I live in a small town in South of India. The shops here do not have mollasses. Can I substitute with honey? Or is their anyother substitute?

Will appreciate your advice.
Regards
sudha

By sudha thomas on April 10, 2015

Hi, Sudha, Honey is typically not a good direct substitute for molasses and I have not tested it in this recipe, so I can’t say with certainty how it would work. I suspect the dough would be softer and spread more. But all I can say right now, if you have nothing else and can’t buy it online, is to try the honey and see what it does.

By Julia M Usher on April 10, 2015

Love your stuff

By Dee walton on May 07, 2015

Thanks so much, Dee!

By Julia M Usher on May 07, 2015

hi Julia, your 3D cookies are amazing~
i have some question about the recipe
can i use maple syrup to replace the molasses?
because i don’t know where can i buy the molasses in Hong Kong..
if can’t, is there any thing can replace it?

i also want to know that is this cookie is hard enough to make big cookie?
i would like to make a 6 inches cookie
i saw you use this recipe to make many 3d cookie, so i think it is possible, right?
don’t know why my cookie is very easy to brokern

thanks

By Polly on July 08, 2015

Hi, Polly! Thanks! I’ve never substituted maple syrup for the molasses in my recipe. They have very different flavors and water content, so the recipe may not perform the same way with this substitution, but all I can suggest is to try it. (Some sources suggest it will be fine, but every recipe is different.) At some point in the future, I may test this recipe with substitutions for both the molasses and shortening, which can both be difficult to find in other countries, but I am not sure when I will do this. Yes, my gingerbread is strong enough for 6-inch cookies and can be turned into 3-D cookies, provided it’s made according to my recipe. My sugar cookie dough is also strong enough for 6-inch cookies. If your cookies are too delicate, it could be due to any number of things: (1) you don’t have enough protein (from eggs) in them; (2) you’re using too much powdered sugar (vs. granulated sugar) in the recipe; (3) you’re rolling them too thin or not baking them long enough. Hope this helps. And happy decorating!

By Julia M Usher on July 08, 2015

thanks Julia, i found that the organic food store have similar product,
is that same product with the one you use?
http://healthaims.net/files/full/1536_1.jpg
thanks~

By Polly on July 09, 2015

Hi, Polly, Great! It’s not the same brand that I use (I use Gramma’s), but it looks to be the same ingredient (though, mind you, I don’t read the language on the label :)). I’d give it a try; it should work if you don’t change anything else in the recipe.

By Julia M Usher on July 09, 2015

Hello Julia !!!! I admire your work . It is amazing!!!! I want to make this recipe, but i have a problem, in my city i couldn’t find the mild molasses, can I use glucose to replace, in the same amount?

Thank you!!!

By Maria Sanchez on August 06, 2015

Hi, Maria! Thanks so much! No, glucose isn’t a good substitute for molasses. It has a higher water content and so the dough will be softer and spread more. You really need molasses for this recipe. Some have substituted honey, but it too has more water in it, so I can’t vouch for the results if you do that.

By Julia M Usher on August 07, 2015

Dejar Julia! I took your class on line with EduK y I was so excited to watch your work I Got so inspired. Yesterday I try this recipe and gotta make the molasses myself. Anyway! COMPLETE SUCCESS: the flavor, the color, the texture. Today I’m gonna decorate and make a box. Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge. God bless.

By Katty Urrutia Mirón on August 17, 2015

Oh, Katty, so thrilled to hear of your success - and thanks for the kind words and for watching my eduK class! I can’t believe you made the molasses yourself! Wow!

By Julia M Usher on August 17, 2015

Hi Julia, thk u soooooo much for sharing your unbelievable talent, totally loving it. God Bless u.

By edite on August 31, 2015

Edite - Wow, thanks so much for the very kind words. So glad to hear you’re enjoying my work!

By Julia M Usher on August 31, 2015

Julia,
just one question, what is the reason you use 2 tablespoons white vinegar in the recipe?
I mean: What is the benefit of using vinegar in the recipe?
I’m always afraid to do 3D cookies because I believe the dough will go to break and I’m afraid do not going to resist, which should be the dough thickness in 3D projects?

Thank you so much!
Best regards,
Gabriela

By Gabriela Montes de Oca on September 10, 2015

Hi, Gabriela, Vinegar is an acid, and acid is NEEDED to activate the baking soda in the recipe, so that it acts as a leavener and causes the dough to rise (a bit). Without it, the dough would be very dense. I roll my dough to different thicknesses depending on the type of 3-D construction I’m doing. Typically, I roll smaller pieces about 3/16 inch thick, but if curved shapes are involved, I might roll even thinner (about 1/8 inch) to prevent too much spreading and cracking while I bake them. On the other hand, I often roll larger, flat structural supports a littler thicker (for added strength), say closer to 1/4 inch. (Icing the pieces also helps to give them strength.) Hope this helps!

By Julia M Usher on September 10, 2015

Hi
I love your cookie and icing technics, I am a cake decorator so usually work with fondant rather than Royal icing.
After reading previous comments about molasses substitutes I hope this helps:
(BrE) golden syrup = (more or less) (AmE) light molasses
(BrE) treacle = (more or less) (AmE) dark molasses
Would be great if you could convert into grams/ounces I’m going to attempt it wish me luck.

Thank you for your inspiration
Laura

By Laura on October 24, 2015

Thanks, Laura! The trickiest oz to gm conversion (the flour) has already been done and is indicated in the recipe above.

By Julia M Usher on October 24, 2015

Is coconut oil an acceptable shortening.

By Sharon Hamilton on November 22, 2015

Hi, Sharon! Yes, I think coconut oil would be a good substitute here, though I have only tested this substitution in some of my other recipes. Its melting point is similar to that of hydrogenated vegetable shortening (slightly lower), so I suspect the dough won’t spread any more noticeably. Though coconut oil often has a strong coconut smell and flavor (naturally), so you may detect it in more delicate doughs. (The flavor tends to dissipate with baking, but I can still detect a faint coconut flavor when I’ve used it in my sugar cookie dough, for instance.)

By Julia M Usher on November 24, 2015

Hi Julia - I love your cookies and your website and have made and used royal icing successfully watching your videos. Just one question. Would it be possible for you to provide metric conversions for the gingerbread cookie. I googled but there are so many different answers that I just gave up. Thanks.

By Anandi on December 06, 2015

Hi, Anandi, Thanks so much! I don’t have time to get it up on my site right now, but if you email me directly, I can email it to you. sweetlife@juliausher.com

By Julia M Usher on December 06, 2015

Its any diference if I use shortening instead of butter in the gingerbread recipe?

Does the shortening make the cookies flat than the butter?

Thank you

By Carmen Urbano on December 20, 2015

Hi, Carmen, my recipe already calls for shortening, not butter - so, of course, using shortening would be fine! :) If you were to use butter, and not change anything else in the recipe, the cookies would spread more, as butter has a lower melting point and higher water content than shortening. Butter is not a good substitute for shortening.

By Julia M Usher on December 21, 2015

Hi Julia, we don’t haave herenmild molasses, I only can find the dark one, is it the same? Can I use it? Is there any other ingredient to replace the molasses? Thank you

By Mercedes Recalde on January 08, 2016

Hi, Mercedes, mild and dark molasses are not the same thing in the US (the latter is more reduced and concentrated than the other), and I’m not sure how your molasses might differ from ours. I know the molasses in Brazil is different - it seems to have a higher water content, because when I make the dough with it, the cookies expand and spread more. But it should be a reasonably good substitute in this recipe. Your dough might just come out a touch richer in flavor and perhaps a bit drier if your molasses is more reduced and has a lower water content.

By Julia M Usher on January 08, 2016

Hello Mrs. Julia,
Amazing work, you are a great artist, I ’ ll definitely will try one of your breathtaking projects. Great tutorials.
Diana DG

By Diana DG on January 16, 2016

Je vous remercie infiniment pour le partage. Vos créations sont magnifiques.

By Melouka on January 16, 2016

Thanks, Diana and Melouka, I really appreciate your kind words and I look forward to seeing your creations!

By Julia M Usher on January 17, 2016

Ms Usher

I have looked everywhere for your book, ” Ultimate Cookies” but the only book I found on E bay was selling for $125.00. When will your book be back in publishing? I have tried every book store on line. Please help me. I am a disabled Vet who,wants to make some of your cookies for the Vets facility here in Michigan.

Thank you so much,
Lynn Allen

By Lynn Allen on March 04, 2016

Was wondering if yiu can do the 3d with sugar cookies instead of gingerbread.  Do I need to change the recipe so it keeps it shape?

By Eileen Dean on March 05, 2016

Lynn, First, thanks for your interest in Ultimate Cookies. Have you tried booksamillion.com? Last I looked, it still had some of my books. My book is out of print indefinitely, and out of stock as well, so if you can’t find it there, then your next best bet is to buy my app, which contains about half of the book’s content plus 15 videos, or the e-book version, which has all of the book’s content.

I am currently looking for another publisher to re-print the book, but there is no guarantee that this will happen.

By Julia M Usher on March 05, 2016

Hi, Eileen, yes, you can use my sugar cookie recipe for 3-D cookies, but it tends to spread and crack more, so the recipe is best if modified for those purposes. I usually decrease the leavening by half, and sometimes add more flour.

By Julia M Usher on March 05, 2016

Hi just a quick question , the recipe says one cup then one stick in brackets
One stick is 4ozs ? One cup is 8ozs not sure what measurement is correct
Thanks so much , Leigh -Aire

By Leigh-Aire Jordan on April 18, 2016

Hi, Leigh-Aire. Sorry for the confusion. One stick of shortening in the US (aka Crisco, NOT margarine) is about 8 ounces, not 4 ounces. So the 1 cup (or 1 8-ounce stick) measurement is indeed correct.

By Julia M Usher on April 18, 2016

Hi , thanks so much for all your wonderful work , you are a genius !
Can you freeze your cut out gingerbread dough ? Thanks again Leigh-Aire

By Leigh-Aire Jordan on April 21, 2016

Hi, Leigh-Aire (pretty name, BTW!)

Thank you so much. Yes, you can freeze the dough - I mention more particulars about this under “Prep Talk” in the recipe above.

By Julia M Usher on April 21, 2016

Good day dear Julia. I just love your style in making all your projects. I find them unique.  Im trying my best english. I have only two question about the cokkies ingredients. The first can i use maple syrup instead of mild molasses? I just cant find it in my country. Second the shortening you use is hydrogenated? Because i just found one that it isnt. Is that important? Thank you very much.

By Roberto Correa Ruiz on May 10, 2016

Hi, Roberto! Thanks so much. I think you’ll have trouble with the dough spreading too much if you use maple syrup in the same quantity as the molasses - it has a higher water content than molasses, which is one thing that contributes to spreading. Some people have said they have successfully substituted honey, but I suspect they ended up with more spreading as well. If you do the latter, chances are you would need to add more flour to offset the effects of the higher water content. As for the shortening, yes, what I use is hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process increases the melting point of the fat, which also contributes to less cookie spreading. If you use an unhydrogenated fat or butter, you can expect to see more spreading. Best of luck!

By Julia M Usher on May 11, 2016

I have made the cokkies with all your ingredients and they are just fantastic. Finally i found all those ingredients! Thank you very much Julia and if you have a team behind helping you thanks for them too! Its just fantastic how you try to answer every question from around the world. It says a lot about your quality as human being. People help the people! Kisses for you from Peru. Have a beautiful live.

By Roberto Correa on May 11, 2016

Oh, I’m glad you found them - and quickly too! Thanks for your kind words. One of the greatest joys I get from what I do is meeting people from all over the world who share a common love of baking and decorating, so I answer every question (that I see; sometimes alerts from certain sites never get to me) myself. I have a small team that helps with shooting and editing my videos, and others who contribute content to my Cookie Connection site, but other than that, I do everything myself.

By Julia M Usher on May 11, 2016

Hi Julia i hope you are good! Well I made the cookies and the royal icing. The cookies were just perfect, the taste and the texture. Then i put the royal icing on top with the overcoating consistency and let it dry all night. 12 hours later they are pretty solid but i ate one cookie and i noticed that the texture is now soft, not much but it is not crunchy anymore . So my question is how can i do in order to avoid this to happen and to have the crunchy texture even after hours of drying the royal icing on top. I have read that you leave them dry without covering them so what can i do. Thanks a lot dear Julia for your time and wisdom.

By Roberto Correa on May 12, 2016

Hi, again, Roberto! Yes, you want to leave them to dry uncovered (if you cover them, they will only get softer, as the icing will take longer to set). The cookies will soften a bit next to wet icing, but to minimize this you can do a few things: (1) be sure your drying environment is not at all humid (run a dehumidifier, put on the air conditioning, etc.); (2) bake your cookies a bit longer to start; (3) push your icing to the thickest possible consistency for the task at hand, as it will dry faster and have less time to soften the cookies. Not knowing your environment or exactly how you handled each of these items, I can’t say for sure which of these things, if any, was your primary issue. You’ll just have to test.

By Julia M Usher on May 12, 2016

Thanks a lot Julia. Yep! Its really humid here in Peru we are about 86% and we can reach 100% of humidity quiet often. I’ll try to buy a dehumidifier somewhere. I’ll be posting the pictures from my first time doing royal icing cookies in your cookie connection site, i hope you will see them. A huge hug for you and your patience!

By Roberto Correa on May 12, 2016

Roberto, I will keep an eye out for them on Cookie Connection, but it may be a few days or more before I see them, as I am traveling out of the country over the next 10 days. Happy decorating!

By Julia M Usher on May 13, 2016

What are your sources for your stencils and equipment you use to make your patterns… I thought when I listened to your videos it was mentioned that the stencils and “dust” could be found on the website…

By Lynie on May 25, 2016

Hi, Lynie, No, I sell nothing from this site other than my own products (books, app and cutter sets.) I think I mentioned that my sources are all listed in links in the video descriptions on YouTube. If you look in that area under each video (just click on SHOW MORE under the video player to reveal the full description, and then look under RELATED LINKS), you’ll find extensive source listings under each video. But, I usually (though not always) get my stencils from Designer Stencils (www.designerstencils.com), and I usually use CK Products petal and luster dusts as they are available in my local cake supply store. But sources can vary depending on the project, so I really do suggest looking at the specific sources in each video description. Thanks for your interest!

By Julia M Usher on May 25, 2016

Hello! I tried this gingerbread recipe mainly because it would not spread as much as sugar cookies. I put dough in fridge 3 hours. Thereafter, when began to work with the dough, it sis not stick to my hands but was too soft. Should I add more flour at this point?

By Susan George on May 29, 2016

Hi, Susan. This dough is not a sticky dough even if just made and not refrigerated at all, so I suspect some measurement error or something happened along the way. Not knowing what you did, it’s hard to say how to prevent this issue next time or exactly what to do this time. But, I suspect if you just roll it with a relatively generous dusting of flour on your work surface, it should become easier to handle.

By Julia M Usher on May 29, 2016

Dear Julia,
I find your work really inspiring. I have been trying out many of the projects from Ultimate Cookies and have watched many of your videos on YouTube.

Yesterday I tried to make Party Cracker using your gingerbread recipe. My contour cookies stayed in place and did not stretch much at all in the oven. However there are large cracks especially on the top!  What am I doing wrong?  Is it the thickness of the dough?  Temperature?  My shaping?

I would be grateful if you can help me.

By Nicola Ching on July 11, 2016

Hi, Nicola! Thanks for the kind words. It’s really tough to say what’s happening without having seen what you did. Did you make any ingredient substitutions in the recipe? How thick did you roll the dough? How long did you cream the shortening and sugar? Perhaps if I know a little more, I’ll be better able to help.

By Julia M Usher on July 11, 2016

Hi Julia

Thank you so much for your reply.

I rolled the dough out to about 1/8 of an inch thick, cut it to about 4.5"x2”.  I then chilled it in the fridge before shaping it for baking.

I was very careful in preparing the gingerbread dough to not whip too much air into it.  However, my dough is really soft even after chilling for a few hours in the fridge.  When I use it to make flat cookies, I normally pull them out of shape when transferring to the silicone mat for baking.  I ended up cutting out the cookies on the mat to avoid having to transfer them.

Looking at your dough in your videos, I think there is something wrong with mine.  I suspect the trouble is because I converted all the ingredients to metric when I made the dough.  Maybe I have made an error in the conversion.  I have now bought some US cups so that I can try again.

However, I need some help with the shortening measurements.  We do not sell them in sticks in the UK.  Ours are all in grams.  Can you tell me the gram equivalent to the amount of shortening you use?

By Nicola Ching on July 12, 2016

Hi, Nicola, Yeah, you perhaps hit the nail on the head - the dough should not be soft, so perhaps a mis-measurement was made. Here is the recipe in grams:

5 cups (694 g) unsifted all-purpose flour*
2 1/2 teaspoons (5.9) ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons (3.0 g) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (2.4 g) ground cloves
1 ½  teaspoons (7.1 g)  baking soda – ** NOTE: CUT THIS IN HALF TO ¾ teaspoon or 3.5 g
  for all contoured/curved cookie pieces
1/2 teaspoon (2.4 g) salt
1 cup (1 stick; about 183 g) shortening (use Crisco brand if possible; be sure you’re using 100% hydrogenated vegetable oil, not margarine or butter)
1 cup (218 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup (about 337 g) mild molasses (use Gramma’s mild molasses if possible, though honey in the same amount will also work)
2 tablespoons (29.6 ml) distilled white vinegar

I need to get the above conversions into my site (directly above) at some point, but hopefully this will correct your troubles for now.

Also, I never need to chill the cut dough before shaping it - I roll the chilled dough, cut it and then shape and bake it immediately.

By Julia M Usher on July 12, 2016

Hi Julia

Thank you so much for the metric conversion.  That is really, really helpful for me.

In terms of the molasses, we don’t have that exact same thing in the UK.  I looked it up on the internet and have replace this with Black Treacle.  Do you think that is a good substitute?

I will make the dough again and will let you know how it goes!

By Nicola Ching on July 13, 2016

Hi, Nicola. So sorry, I really don’t know about the black treacle, as it is not commonly available here and I have not tested the recipe with it. As I noted above, I have tested it with honey and that works well, though the dough will of course be a lot lighter if you use honey rather than molasses. Best of luck!

By Julia M Usher on July 13, 2016

Hi Julia, i have one question in mind. Do you sift the dry ingredients? Is that good when you prepare any cookie recipe for decorating? Thank you very much for your help in advance.

By Roberto Correa on July 21, 2016

Hi, Roberto, You should follow each recipe’s instructions for sifting, as each recipe is different and, whether you sift or not, can dramatically affect the texture of the end product, especially if you are measuring by volume and not weight.

Typical recipe convention is that if it does not say to sift, then you shouldn’t sift. Also, if “sift” occurs before the ingredient name (i.e., as in “one cup sifted flour”), then sift before measuring into the cup. Alternatively, if “sifted” occurs after the ingredient name ((i.e., “one cup flour, sifted”), then sift AFTER the cup of flour is measured. You will get different amounts/weights of flour each way, as a cup of unsifted flour (or any other dry ingredient) weighs more than a cup that has been sifted.

I personally do not sift the ingredients in my cookie recipes; it’s not needed in most cookie recipes, as you’re not trying to get a fluffy, airy end product. If you were to sift and then measure the ingredients into cups with my recipe, you would end up with less quantity (by weight) than I call for in the recipe, and the dough would likely spread more (since you added less flour than what the recipe says). This all said, weighing the ingredients (vs. using volume measures) is the best way to ensure consistent results, and the result that the recipe intended.

By Julia M Usher on July 21, 2016

Thank you Julia! You are so kind.

By Roberto Correa on July 21, 2016

Hi Julia again, i got your book from amazon.com. its amazing and i have to tell you that i have done lots of your recipes but i have one problem today. I did your recipe of sugar cookies and im worried. I have to do 50 big cookies so i triple your recipe. And i have to tell that its really soft like when you do for a cake and you bake it. I have put it in the fridge and im gping to wait until tomorrow and see. My question is if i can add more flour tomorrow if its still soft. Does it have to be like the gingerbread recipe in consistency? Please help me. I have to tell you also that i didnt have butter so i used margarine unsalted the best i could find. What can i do thanks.

By Roberto Correa on July 22, 2016

Hi, Roberto, It’s hard to help from afar in situations like this, as any number of things could have been done wrong. But, something was definitely done wrong, as the dough should be firm like my gingerbread dough and easily rolled after a minimum of chilling (even without chilling). In fact, once chilled for 3 hours, it will be even firmer than my gingerbread dough, because the recipe calls for some butter and not all shortening. (Butter gets quite firm in the fridge and shortening does not.) Please note that margarine is not a good substitute for either butter or shortening, and I do not recommend making fat substitutions in my recipes. The only reliable one to make is coconut oil for shortening. Various fats have different water content and melting points, and substitutions can lead to more or less spreading of the dough. But your trouble sounds bigger than just using the wrong fat, as the consistency sounds all wrong. Perhaps you mis-measured the flour - that would be my best guess. All I can say is try adding more flour until the dough is easily rolled, and then be sure to not make any substitutions next time.

By Julia M Usher on July 22, 2016

Thanks for answering so fast. Yes i measured 2 cups for each recipe so 136gr x 6 cause i did 3 recipes. And i only substitude the butter cause i used crisco as it says. Well i will try adding more flour till it gets harder. Do i have to do this tomorrow after chill for hours or just today before it rest in the fridge?. Thanks

By Roberto Correa on July 22, 2016

Hi, Roberto, As I said, it’s tough to diagnose what went wrong without having been there to watch, but what you described as a cake batter is way too soft, and not at all typical of the dough. I wish I could be of more help, but if you say you followed the recipe to a tee, then I am at a loss.

You can add the flour at any time, especially as you did not use butter, so your dough will not firm up much in the refrigerator.

By Julia M Usher on July 22, 2016

Thank you very much Julia. By the way your book is fantastic and for people that are far from USA the virtual version is just the best solution! Thank you.

By Roberto Correa on July 22, 2016

Thanks again, Roberto! Glad you are enjoying the book, and that it’s still useful after all of these years!

By Julia M Usher on July 22, 2016

Julia - I am about to embark on a cookie structure of epic proportions.  GAH!  I work at an orphanage in Mexico and we are about to celebrate our 50th anniversary this October.  I have been charged with the task of making a replica of our children’s home.  I have done gingerbread houses in the past pretty successfully - so I think I’m up for it!!  :-)  It would be much more economical for me to make a structure without molasses and all the spices - a non-gingerbread option is what I need.  Do you have or know of such a recipe?  It will not be eaten - just looked at - and I will be covering a lot of it in fondant and royal icing.  I want it to be edible in principle - but in practice - I just need really hard baking - non spreading dough to work with.  I would truly appreciate your suggestions - you’re the most expert-y expert I could think of!  Thank you!

By Amy on August 16, 2016

Hi, Amy! Sorry for the delayed response to your question, but I just returned from a teaching trip in Indonesia and am struggling to catch up with a large backlog of work. The spices are by far the larger contributor to expense (as compared to the molasses), and you can safely remove spices from almost any dough without altering its inherent spreading qualities. Taking out the molasses isn’t as easy, however, as you would probably have to substitute with honey, and it is just as costly as molasses, if not more costly, depending on the quality of the honey. Plus, you’d need to further modify the recipe (add flour, most likely) to ensure the same performance, as honey has a higher water content than molasses. Any dough with it would spread more if it were substituted one for one, and no other recipe adjustments were made. My gingerbread (above), though delicate enough to eat straight up, is quite suitable for building things, and won’t sag or soften much once it it completely iced (or backed with a thin layer of reinforcing icing). So maybe you start with it, and just remove the spices? Best of luck!

By Julia M Usher on August 18, 2016

Julia,

I have often wondered (not a huge fan of spiced cookies) if this recipe will work as well for the curved cookies, if you just omit the spices (or add equivalent in flour) and maybe add lemon zest and lemon juice in place of the vinegar?  Am sure going to try.  My sugar cookie attempt at curving did not go so well.  It baked fine but the texture was too brittle and broke when handled.
Thank you for the inspiration, love your work.  My next buy is a airbrush, but I am not patient enough to wait for yours to come out ;)
Kiti in Australia

By Kiti de Jager on January 25, 2017

Hi, Kiti. Yes, I think it will work if you replace the spice with flour and add VERY finely grated lemon zest. (Coarse zest will cause bumps and cracking on curved cookies.) But I’d caution against deleting the vinegar, especially if not replaced with lemon juice. It’s the acid in it that activates the baking soda and causes the cookies to rise a bit. Without it, the baking soda can’t do its leavening job. If you delete it altogether, the cookies will be very dense. I do cut the soda in half or thirds when doing curved cookies (to diminish spreading and cracking), but I always keep the full quantity when making flat cookies. Oh, I do hope you can hold out for my airbrush; I think it’s going to combine a better set of features than anything out there for cookies right now - I’ve tested nearly all of the competition’s airbrushes and several our my partner’s design, so I know we’re on a good path!

By Julia M Usher on January 25, 2017

I love your ideas.

By Grace Cooke Thomas on January 31, 2017

Thanks so much, Grace!

By Julia M Usher on February 01, 2017