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Hi Bold Bakers!
A NOTE FROM GEMMA: I’d love to introduce you to Vedika Luthra, an incredible baker, founder of HotChocolateHits.com, and wonderful baking show host I’ve known for years. She will be contributing some of her amazing recipes for Bigger Bolder Baking and I cannot wait to share what she has in store for you all. This first recipe is for her Spiced Sugar Cookies — which are perfect for the holidays. They’re easy to make and a bold twist on a cookie that has been begging for an update. This recipe comes from her brand new cookbook, 52 Weeks, 52 Sweets: Elegant Recipes for All Occasions, which you can find on Amazon right here. Now here she is in her own words! – Gemma
Hi, Bold Bakers! I’m Vedika. If you’re looking to stray from the ordinary, to elevate your holiday cookie spread to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. These spiced sugar cookies have subtle hints of favorite winter spices, like cinnamon and ginger, enticing both children and adults alike. This recipe belongs to the ‘December’ chapter of my new cookbook, 52 Weeks, 52 Sweets: Elegant Recipes for All Occasions. It’s a perfect cookie recipe to make for the Holidays.
A huge part of my book is about fusing unique flavors that I’ve absorbed from my surroundings. In the Netherlands (where I live), speculoos cookies are widespread, and in Poland (where I grew up) gingerbread is a defining Christmas recipe. Both are made with warm spices, like ginger and cinnamon, and I wanted to bring a similar feel to these cookies.
Gingerbread vs. Spiced Sugar Cookies
A marriage of gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies, these spiced sugar cookies fall in the middle. They don’t contain molasses (an essential component in gingerbread), because I wanted the recipes from my cookbook to have ingredients that are accessible to people around the world. They do have a similar profile to your favorite gingerbread cookie though (in terms of the ground ginger and cinnamon)- and if you like, the spices may be amped up to better suit your tastebuds.
And like a sugar cookie, these are slightly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and melt in your mouth. They are embellished with velvety vanilla icing, which can be colored as you like. The perfect paint for your cookie canvas.
What You Need To Make Spiced Sugar Cookies
Let’s keep it simple! You’ll be on your way to sugar cookies with a bigger flavor in no time.
- In terms of equipment, nothing too fancy here. A bowl and a wooden spoon will suffice (although if you have a whisk or spatula handy that doesn’t hurt).
- In terms of ingredients, your basic cookie essentials: butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Plus the spices to make these spiced!
Tips To Keep In Mind
- Make sure to use a good vanilla extract: a little goes a long way here.
- Cinnamon and ginger to add that flare.
- Parchment paper yields evenly baked cookies that don’t stick, so make sure you have some handy to line your cooking tray.
- Chilling is key. Without it, the dough will be too soft, and difficult to roll.
- I prefer to work with grams, as weight measurements yield more consistent, accurate results.
- Cookie cutters are a fun way to produce beautiful shapes, but if you don’t have any you can use a circular glass with a sharp rim to cut shapes or even a knife.
The Final Results
In terms of holding their shape, these may puff up slightly but don’t spread too much. In other words, the dough is a delight when it comes to cutting out fun shapes. They work as the perfect base for your decorative masterpiece.
Icing The Cookies
I am rather conservative when it comes to using raw eggs in baking, so instead of royal icing (which calls for egg whites), I stick to the basics. Sugar. The icing I provide you with is a recipe for a modified buttercream. It’s thinner in texture, and a thin layer spread or piped atop the cookie hardens nicely. Once the icing dries, it works nicely for stacking and serving in bulk without compromising any decorations.
If you like this recipe, I hope you will check out my cookbook, 52 Weeks, 52 Sweets. It provides you with easy, delicious dessert recipes for every month of the year, full of bold flavor combinations and unique twists.
About 52 Weeks, 52 Sweets
- The book is seasonally and culturally themed, with a recipe for each week of the year (52 recipes for 52 weeks), organized by months.
- Each recipe is written with gram measurements, ounce measurements, and cup measurements.
- I’ve shot and styled all of the photographs in the book.
- Recipes can be adapted for dietary preferences, and there’s also a collection of vegan, eggless, and gluten-free recipes for your enjoyment, that do not compromise one bit on flavour.
- You’ll learn important baking techniques, shortcuts, and lessons, all of which I’ve learned over time.
- Each recipe includes prep time, cook time, and storing instructions so that you can plan ahead.
- I share helpful information about key ingredients used in the recipes.
- The recipes all have introductions describing the recipe.
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Spiced Sugar Cookies Recipe
For The Spiced Sugar Cookies
- 275 grams / 9.7 (1 and 3/4 cups) oz all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger*
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon*
- 125 grams / 4.4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 125 grams / 4.4 oz (1/2 cup+1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For The Icing
- 25 grams / 0.9 oz (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter (soft at room temperature)
- 200 grams / 7.1 oz (1 ½ c) icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food coloring of choice
- To make the cookies, first combine the flour, salt, baking powder, ground ginger and cinnamon. Whisk until incorporated, and set aside. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined. Next, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if the mixture clumps slightly, it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.
- Gradually add in the flour mixture and switch to a rubber spatula if necessary. The mixture will be thick and may be a little sticky. Scoop the cookie dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, covering it well. Shape the dough into a small disk. This ensures that a skin does not form on the dough, and it remains smooth.
- Chill the dough for at least two hours or overnight, or until it is firm to the touch. The longer the dough chills, the more pronounced the spice flavors will be. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. If the dough has been chilling for several hours, leave it for around 10 minutes to soften slightly, as it will be quite firm.
- Dust a work surface and the dough with flour and roll to a ½ cm or ¼ inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough as you like. Fear not if you don’t have cookie cutters: you can do several things. You could roll the dough into a log instead of a disk when refrigerating, then slice the log into ½ cm or ¼ inch slices. You could also roll the dough into 1 tablespoon sized balls, roll the balls in granulated sugar, then place onto the cookie sheet and press down to form a disk. Alternatively, you can use the rim of a glass to cut out shapes. Gather the scraps, then roll out the cookie dough again, adding a touch more flour when necessary to prevent sticking.
- Place the cut-outs onto the parchment-lined baking tray and bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown (11 minutes will give you a slightly softer cookie, 13 minutes will give you a slightly crunchier cookie). Let the cookies cool for several minutes on the tray, then transfer them to a wire rack and let them completely before icing.
- To make the icing, use a wooden spoon to combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar as best you can. It will be relatively dry. At this stage, add the vanilla, followed by the milk or water a little at a time, until you obtain your desired consistency. If the icing ends up being too thin, add some more sugar. If it’s too thick, add more milk. If you’d like, you can color the icing with your food coloring of choice.
- Spread the icing onto the cookies, using a butter knife or using a piping bag with the end snipped off just slightly, and top with sprinkles. Wait until the icing has hardened (this takes around an hour, or less if refrigerated) before stacking or serving. The icing makes enough for the cookies specified in the recipe, but if you’d like to have multiple colors, you might like to double the icing recipe so that there is enough per color.
- Storing: These cookies last for around a week once frosted, and slightly longer unfrosted. The dough, unbaked, freezes well too!
*You can omit the spices if you prefer a vanilla sugar cookie instead.