Ginger Spice Delights from Holiday Cookies

December 19, 2014(updated on October 18, 2023)
Holiday Cookies cover

I have not done a lot of baking for gift giving this season. The sum total of my holiday output has been the caramel popcorn I wrote about last week, a batch of this burnt sugar toffee, and these ginger spice cookies. I picked up two pounds of pecans yesterday that are destined for brittle, and then I’m declaring myself done.

mixing cookie dough

Of course, I could always cost along on my stash of jams and chutneys for holiday giving without making a single additional thing, but it feels somehow more complete to offer a small sweet treat alongside a jar or two.

Holiday Cookies spine

The popcorn, toffee, and brittle are all long time favorites, but these ginger cookies are a new addition to the holiday rotation. The recipe is from Holiday Cookies, a book that rounds up the top recipes from the last three decades of the Chicago Tribune’s annual cookie contest.

finished ginger cookies

There are a number of sugar cookies, shortbreads, and chocolate confections, but this recipe for Ginger Spice Delights spoke to me most. They are made with oat flour, whole wheat flour, applesauce (preserves in action!), and a minimal amount of sugar. I do like a slightly virtuous cookie, particularly one that is spiced with plenty of ginger and orange zest.

I will say, they aren’t the most beautiful cookie, but they do go so nicely with a mug of tea (and if you need to sweeten them up, a dollop of jam would do the job nicely).

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Ginger Spice Delights from Holiday Cookies


  • Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger I used freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • Sugar coating I skipped this part:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest


  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. For the dough, grind the oats in a food processor until it looks like fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Beat the butter and ⅓ cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and orange zest, continuing to beat as you add the molasses, applesauce, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt together in a bowl. Add to the dough. Beat on medium-high until well mixed.
  • Turn the mixer to medium; slowly add the ground oats. Then slowly add the whole wheat flour. The dough will be moderately sticky.
  • For the coating, pulse the sugar and orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow bowl.
  • Using a rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie, roll the dough into balls; roll each ball in the coating sugar. (If necessary, moisten your palms to help with rolling.) Place the balls about 1½ inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.
  • Bake in batches until the edges are set and tops are cracked but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.


When I made these, I skipped the orange sugar coating. Instead, I portioned them out directly onto the cookie sheet and used damp hands to flatten them a little. That’s because they didn’t spread out as much as I wanted on their own.

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5 thoughts on "Ginger Spice Delights from Holiday Cookies"

  • Nice to know about the book, and good choice- sharing this particular ginger cookie recipe. Looks soft and chewy, nice with tea on a rainy or snowy day. Look forward to making these but trying for gluten free.

  • These look delicious. I happen to have some oat flour–I assume you use that in place of the ground oats? Would you alter the amount at all?

  • cookies look wonderful and think I could eat a handful right about now.
    Great looking cookbook as well
    Thanks 4 sharing the recipe.
    Wishing you and everyone there on your end a Very Merry Christmas