Monday, December 19, 2011

Soft Gingerbread Cookies (Nana Cookies)

My grandparents passed away when I was young, but I'm lucky enough to have strong memories of them still.  I was also lucky enough to have my grandparents relatively close to me, so we were able to see them often.  I can still see my mother's parents' house in my mind, from the separate beds the two of them slept in to the pool table and slot machine in the basement.  The one thing I will always remember of my mother's mother is her cookies.  None of us ever really knew what was in those cookies, so we always called them Nana cookies.  And whenever we walked through the door of my grandparents' house, there would always be a container of Nana cookies waiting for us.  I'm pretty sure I also stuffed my face with about three or four before Nana put them away.  It's comforting to know that some things never change.

After Nana passed away, I didn't have those cookies again.  My aunt apparently has the recipe, but she said she's never been able to recreate them.  Once, my mom got some cookies from a coworker and she swore they tasted just like the Nana cookies, but I never got a chance to try them.  I had figured out years ago that Nana cookies were some sort of gingerbread cookies, but I never really understood how she made them so soft.  And besides, they didn't have that strong spice taste that many gingerbread cookies have.

Seeing the myriad of cookie posts in the blogs I follow brought back memories of these Nana cookies.  I made sure to really read the recipe for every ginger cookie I saw, but nothing really sounded right.  Finally, I came across a recipe by Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod.  I mean honestly, why didn't I think to check Maria's site first?  Her cookies even looked like the Nana cookies (except for the white chocolate chunks) and seemed to have the right texture and ingredients.  Plus, Maria knows her cookies, so any cookie recipe of hers couldn't be bad.  I bookmarked it and decided I would give it a try.

I cut the recipe in half and replaced the granulated sugar with brown sugar since I remember Nana's cookies being darker and richer than the ones listed here.  I also increased the amount of molasses.  This definitely made the cookie very rich, but it was not too sweet.  Plus, I think it helped balance out the intense taste you get from most gingersnap cookies.  When I opened the Tupperware container the next morning I was immediately transported back into my grandmother's kitchen - brown tiled floors and all.  I knew I got the recipe right.  I really loved these cookies for so many reasons and I know I will be making them again to share with my mom's side of the family for Christmas.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies (Nana Cookies)
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
Prep time: 20 min          Bake time: 10 min

-                2 c + 2 tbsp flour
-                1 ¼ tsp baking soda
-                ½ tsp salt
-                ½ tsp cinnamon
-                ½ tsp ground cloves
-                ½ tsp ground ginger
-                ½ c unsalted butter
-                ½ c brown sugar
-                1/3 c molasses
-                1 tbsp canola oil
-                ½ tsp vanilla extract
-                1 large egg
-                granulated sugar, for rolling cookie dough balls

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and spices.  Set aside

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar.  Beat in the molasses, oil, vanilla extract, and egg until completely combined.  Add in the dry mix about 1 c at a time and combine completely after each addition.

Scoop dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on baking sheet and bake in oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove baking sheets from oven and allow cookies to cool on sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 


  1. I love gingerbread cookies. Great recipe.

  2. That sounds exactly like my grandparents' house except it was a ping pong table in the basement and the apple pie we were after. I spent years playing around with recipes until I finally recreated my grandmother's pie! Glad you finally found THE recipe!

  3. These look so yummy!
    How wonderful that you were able to find the recipe again!

  4. I made these today and they are delicious and soft! Thank you for the recipe


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