December 3, 2019 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm hosting a gingerbread cookie decorating party this week and I want to step up my game. I've always used the same gingerbread recipe but the flavor has always seemed too mild to me. What do I need to do to really amp up the gingerbread flavor level? New recipe? Special spices?

This is my standard recipe.

I found two recipes that claim to be extra spicy. The first has more ginger/cinnamon plus black pepper. The second has a ton of black pepper plus cayenne. I'm not opposed to this, but I'd really like the actual gingerbread flavor to punch through more, rather than relying on pepper.
posted by quiet coyote to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to recommend the Smitten Kitchen recipe. I used it last year for my Christmas cookies and it got rave reviews from friends. The black pepper doesn't really register, it just helps to intensify the other flavours.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Smitten Kitchen's gingerbread is the best recipe.

I have been making it for 9 years, in a massive double batch, and it has never let me down. Of the cookies I make it is the most requested one.
posted by larthegreat at 2:10 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I haven't found black pepper or cayenne to be necessary for gingerbread.

I would just ramp up (at LEAST double) the spices. The molasses also seems a little skimpy to me, but messing with that changes the liquid ratio. I would also make sure your spices are fresh (fresh ground if you can, plus candied/fresh/powdered ginger itself).
posted by Ms Vegetable at 2:10 PM on December 3, 2019

Fresh AND powdered ginger. Powdered alone doesn’t cut it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:37 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

for me, the dominant flavour in gingerbread isn't actually the spice, but is the molasses.

the first alternative recipe you posted is pretty similar to the one I've always used, but it's a little lighter on molasses (mine is 1.5 cups for 6 cups of flour) but I think the real kicker flavour wise is to be sure to use blackstrap molasses and not fancy or table.
posted by euphoria066 at 3:02 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

I agree that the Smitten Kitchen recipe is where it's at if you want a nicely spicy gingerbread cookie. It's the one I always use. Get fresh spices (i.e., not ones that have been sitting in your cabinets for years) and it won't disappoint. I do not find that the pepper makes it spicy as in hot, but that it compliments the molasses and ginger nicely, and also that the use of dark brown sugar rather than golden brown really ups the strength of the gingerbread flavor. Your opinion may differ based on your opinion on cloves, since the Smitten Kitchen recipe includes that.
posted by yasaman at 4:17 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

The new America's Test Kitchen gingerbread cake recipe includes fresh ginger, a garnish of candied ginger (probably unnecessary), white pepper and cayenne, as well as some cocoa. I'd try rolling with some or all of this.
posted by General Malaise at 4:41 PM on December 3, 2019

Finely diced candied ginger added to any recipe. I LOVE candied ginger: it's sweet and hot.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:08 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding euphoria066. When I went about tweaking my default gingerbread cookie recipe to ramp up the flavor, it was subbing half the molasses with blackstrap that made the biggest difference. Now that I think about it, I might ought to try all blackstrap this year.
posted by gueneverey at 5:51 PM on December 3, 2019

You may be interested in pfeffernusse recipes for the spice blends. Typical inclusions are cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, black pepper, and cardamom. I typically double the amount suggested in the recipe for pleasing-to-me spiciness (and skip the sugar rolling).
posted by momus_window at 8:40 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

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