As a little girl I wanted to be Martha Stewart.

My best friend and I took it upon ourselves to create a publication for young girls, such as ourselves, who dreamed of being the crafter, cook and exceptional decorator that Martha is. Our magazine was called, Mini Martha Living.

It ran for one issue.

Oh but what an issue it was. We included recipes and how-to’s. There were sewing, beading and origami projects with hand-drawn illustrations to aid in the learning.

We studied the grownup version of the magazine with precision and mimicked the layout right down to the fonts that vary in size in boldness adorning the cover.

We were so proud of our magazine and quickly learned that publication is a tough business.

That childhood dream has followed me into adulthood.

I get goosebumps at the site of her crafting closet filled with neatly labeled boxes and spindle after spindle of delicate ribbons. Her potting shed makes me weak in the knees as I dream of spending hours out there starting seeds and arranging beautiful cut flowers freshly plucked from my garden.


A perfect afternoon is me with a cup of good coffee completely immersed in a pile of past issues eager to crease the corner of the page that will soon be my next project.

As I’ve grown up I have come to realize that I will never rise to the status of Martha Stewart. I am okay with this. I will never find the need to iron my sheets. And I’m pretty sure – as hard as I try – it is impossible to fold a fitted sheet as concisely as she seems to be able to.

But what I have recently realized is that I can decorate gingerbread cookies. Now they aren’t as perfect as hers but again she irons her sheets – I do not. In fact I call it an accomplishment if I manage to make my bed (sorry mom).

I take it one project at a time, ever increasing my Martha Stewart-ness. Today I start with cookies.


These gingerbread cookies are as lovely on the inside as they are on the outside. Soft and spicy. Sweet and complex. A beautiful and rich mahogany color with an dark molasses flavor.

Gingerbread Cookies

I love the heat of these cookies. I increased the amount of pepper but if you don’t like that much warmth feel free to keep the pepper to 1 teaspoon.Some other delightful additions may be orange zest, lemon zest or finely chopped candied ginger.

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs

1 cup unsulfured molasses

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough in thirds, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut into shapes then transfer to prepared baking sheets.

Freeze for 10 minutes before baking (or refrigerate for 15 minutes) Bake for 9-12 minutes. If you like a crisper cookie you can bake longer. I like them soft so I took them out at 9 or 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks.

Decorate with royal icing.



40 Responses to “Gingerbread Cookies”

  1. alice

    I had the pleasure of eating several of these cookies today and I think they were one of the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever eaten. The shape of the cookies after being cut-out and baked held up beautifully. If anyone is looking for a good gingerbread cookie recipe.. look no further!

  2. server jobs providence

    This cookies are great for the incoming season. Would love to bake this, thanks for sharing the recipe. Good photos! Maybe you can except for the yummy dessert,this can also be used as a Christmas decor…Just kidding!

  3. Mercedes

    Although I do not live in the States, I cannot scape to Martha’s influence… I recently saw Julie and Julia, the movie about Julia Child, and felt I had to do something like her… these cookies are amazing and will definitely have to make them at home soon and make little gifts for my friends and family (I got a little gingerbread man cutter and can’t wait to use it!). Regards from spain

  4. Renn

    No offense to Martha, but I enjoy your blog so much more than I ever enjoyed either her show or magazine. Why? Because you share the not so perfect as well as the perfect.
    Where Martha might be the ideal or dream, you (and other blogger like you) are the reality and it’s so much more fun learning from you guys!

  5. heather

    from one Martha devotee to another: you’ve got talent! i grew up watching her as well, and i’d say you paid much closer attention. such whimsical, edible artwork…



  6. Sara

    Fact: People who iron their sheets are no fun. Those are seriously the most gorgeous cookies I’ve ever seen, Ashley. They look absoluetly perfect.

  7. sammyw

    love these cookies – so beautifully decorated. may i ask where you got your lovely sprinkles and glitter? i’m inspired to make these!

  8. Lynn

    Well done, Martha 2.0! The cookies are gorgeous. I wish I had the patience to make such beautiful Christmas cookies.

  9. Connie

    Now THOSE are gingerbread cookies. Cripes. (I mean that in an oh-my-goodness-I’m-in-awe-speechless-kind-of-way, they look incredible!!!)

  10. Wizzythestick

    Once upon a time maybe she ironed her sheets. Now I am sure she has people who do iron them for her just like she has recipe developers and food stylists. Send her those yummy cookies. I’m sure she’d hire you 🙂

  11. Allison

    I still want to be Martha when I grow up, and I’m 27! She will never cease to amaze me with her projects. Your cookies look like they came straight out of one of her issues.

  12. Katherine @ NightOwlChef

    Well, judging by your beautiful and inspirational blog, I think you’ve become your own version of Martha and definitely a success in your own right – minus the tedium of ironing sheets and organizing a gift wrapping station! The photos above and testament by Alice speak to that. 🙂

    I once wanted to be Martha, too – but then I settled for my own, semi-wonderful life and the pleasure of cooking her recipes. I even baked these cookies a few years ago when they were first in her magazine! They were perfectly spicy and delicious – what a great recipe, eh?! However, mine weren’t NEARLY as pretty as yours; I have no illusions of being the next Martha, haha!

  13. LaPommedePortland

    I always wanted to be Martha as well. But then I grew up and realized that she has a staff of at least 100 people creating her “perfection”. Kind of like when you grow up and realize that cover girls aren’t really that perfect…they are air brushed, photoshopped, etc. But I agree with Katherine@NightOwlChef that you’ve become your own unique version of Martha. Your website is so beautiful and inspirational.

  14. Laura

    I too aspire(d) to be Martha! I’ve got nearly 10 years of Martha Stewart Living and I always pull out all the old issues around holidays, just so see what was done before. Beautiful cookies 🙂

  15. heidileon

    darling, you are perfect as you are! and that’s why we all love you and follow you and your wonderful coking-baking adventures. Well, I do.

    (Oh, and I’m quite sure that if THE Martha checks these cookies she will be so damn proud of you.)

  16. Juliemarg

    I just shared this on Facebook. I’m a dedicated Martha fan, but I was even more touched by your early days as a magazine publisher – I was a newspaper editor at age 10 or so – The Reporting Four – recipes, movie reviews, sports. The cookies look beautiful.

  17. michelle

    i made these the other day! we dont really get martha shows over here, so i dont know much about her, but i still love her. even if all i knew was that she was the one who invented this recipe, i’d still think she was an angel from heaven. i didnt have the utensils or decorations required for the snowflakes so just went gingerbread men. i didnt think anyone could make snowflakes as pretty as hers but i now stand corrected, beautiful!

  18. heather

    I am touched by your mini Martha tale. This was my dream as a girl too. Well, actually it still is, if I’m being honest. The cookies look lovely and I intend to make them this holiday season, while channeling my inner Martha. Thanks for sharing your talents.

  19. Nini

    Gorgeous! But, I wouldn’t touch ’em with a ten foot pole!
    Not into putting PEPPER into my desserts!
    I would leave the pepper out!
    So pretty, tho!

  20. Debra Wright

    OMG!!! These are gingerbread cookies I have ever tasted. The flavors explode in your mouth, then gradually morph into definite flavors. Most awesome. Best ever! Thanks!

  21. Mary Tilghman

    I am about to release a Christmas book in which the two sisters make gingerbread as part of their holiday traditions. It’s even called LOVE LETTERS & GINGERBREAD. I used this recipe for a reading and it’s wonderful. Easy and delicious. I’m linking my blogpost about it to this post. Thank you.


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