- I tried three celebrity-chef gingerbread recipes to find the best one to keep making this holiday season.
- Alex Guarnaschelli’s flavorful, chewy cookies were my favourite.
- Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman’s recipes were also pretty good and would be ideal for making gingerbread houses.
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Gingerbread is a classic holiday flavour that goes well with everything, from lattes and oatmeals to cookies and cakes.
Decorating gingerbread people or houses is a beloved holiday tradition for many families and friends. But from the spice level to chewiness, finding just the right recipe can be tricky.
Since there are so many variations of this traditional dessert, I decided to taste test three different recipes for gingerbread cookies from celebrity chefs Buddy Valastro, Duff Goldman, and Alex Guarnaschelli.
Read on to find out how each recipe stacked up.
Valastro’s gingerbread recipe uses pastry flour and keeps things simple with store-bought decorations
The Cake Boss may love bells and whistles, but as far as his gingerbread goes, Valastro calls for pretty standard ingredients in his recipe.
I was interested to see how the addition of pastry flour would change the final result. According to Bob’s Red Mill, this type of flour has a lower amount of protein, which can lead to chewier cookies.
On top of just calling for ginger, cinnamon, and cloves for the spices, Valastro’s recipe was also the only one I tested that uses store-bought icing and toppings instead of instructing to make these garnishes from scratch.
For a minimalist look and to ensure all of the cookies were similar, I used white icing for this batch.
These were the fastest cookies to make
This recipe was very straightforward. I mixed my dry ingredients, then my wet ones, and combined the two by using a stand mixer as directed, which made the process quick.
Although Valastro’s recipe doesn’t require chilling unless you feel the dough needs it, I placed my mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to ensure it would be easy to work with.
This trick worked like a charm, and I had no trouble cutting out the gingerbread shapes.
I baked the cookies for 13 minutes, rather than 10 as the recipe states, and they came out lighter than I expected. I was most impressed that the dough didn’t spread at all, and the cookies had very clean outlines.
I used a simple, white cookie icing to decorate, which was somewhat easy to pipe onto the treats.
This gingerbread just needed a little more spice
I loved how uniform and nearly perfect these cookies looked. They also had a great texture that was slightly chewy and held together well even after taking a bite.
Although the ginger was prominent, it seemed like the overall flavour was missing something. I thought the recipe could have used a bit more of the other spices for an added kick.
The icing was OK. It was definitely sweet but didn’t hold a candle to the other two variations I tested, both of which are homemade.
Goldman’s recipe includes a homemade royal icing
There are no surprises in the ingredients list, and the recipe also calls for powdered sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice to make a simple royal icing.
The dough was easy to make, but it needed a lot of time to chill
This gingerbread recipe was pretty simple.
Goldman instructs to cream the butter and sugar by hand with a wooden spoon, which, of course, took longer than in a stand mixer but was still easy since I used softened butter.
From there, I added the egg and molasses to the mix, and in a separate bowl, I whisked together all of the dry ingredients. Then I added the dry mix to the wet one, formed a ball, covered the dough in plastic wrap, and set it in the fridge to chill for two hours.
But this step was only the first round of the process.
After the two hours had passed, I rolled the dough out to about 1/8 inch, then popped the flattened sheet into the freezer to chill for another 30 minutes.
Once the dough was thoroughly chilled, I was able to easily cut my gingerbread cookies, which I then placed in the heated oven for 18 minutes per the recipe’s instructions.
This bake time turned out to be a few minutes too long, and the cookies burned. One person in the recipe’s comment section had the same issue and suggested rolling the dough out only to 1/4 inch in the future.
The icing was quick to make. I whisked powdered sugar, egg whites, and a couple of drops of lemon juice together until the mix thickened.
This variation turned out to be the easiest of the three to work with â€” it was fluid enough to pipe smooth lines, but it wasn’t runny at all.
Despite being overdone, the cookies had a good texture and flavour
Despite all that time chilling, these gingerbread people ended up burnt even after baking them at the lowest recommended time. Still, I was happy they held their shape and didn’t spread.
Although a few cookies were definitely crispy, the best ones had a great texture with a slight chewiness.
The spices came through well, making for a strong and delicious gingerbread flavour. The overbaking was really the only problem here.
Guarnaschelli adds plenty of fresh citrus to her gingerbread cookies with orange icing
I couldn’t wait to get started on these cookies, which feature a homemade orange-zest icing.
This recipe calls for standard gingerbread ingredients, aside from the fresh orange zest and juice.
The recipe was easy to follow, but the dough turned out very sticky
This was another easy recipe, and I started by creaming sugar, butter, and orange zest together before mixing in the rest of the wet ingredients. I combined the dry ones in a separate bowl, then added them to the wet mixture.
The dough turned out quite sticky, and I was worried it was going to give me trouble when it came time to roll it.
Guarnaschelli says to flatten the mixture and chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes. In the future, I’d leave it in for much longer, as this dough was very sticky and challenging to work with, even after generously flouring my prep station and rolling pin.
Several of my gingerbread men lost body parts because the dough was too sticky, but I only had to bake the cookies for 10 minutes.
The icing was easy to manually mix with a whisk, and the addition of fresh orange juice and zest made it smell amazing.
These cookies spread out a lot in the oven but tasted incredible
The cookies spread quite a bit in the oven and turned out pretty puffy looking, which was unfortunate.
That said, it was still love at first bite. The icing was so delicious with a fresh, bright flair that perfectly paired with the delicious gingerbread.
And the spice level was ideal â€” the flavours came through, but they weren’t overwhelming.
This option turned out softer than the others, so this recipe probably wouldn’t be ideal for making gingerbread houses, though it worked well for cookies.
I’m already planning to make Guarnaschelli’s gingerbread people again
Although they didn’t have the nice, clean edges that the other two variations had, Guarnaschelli’s cookies blew me away with their vibrant flavours. I also preferred their softer texture.
The other two recipes were also nice and I think they’d actually be better suited for a day of building gingerbread houses since they were firmer and held together better.
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