contender for best christmas cookie ever

chewy glazed gingerbread

Now, I could just post a recipe and some photos. But short posts aren’t really my thing, have you noticed? So I must include a story as well.

I found the recipe for these soft glazed gingerbread tiles in a local magazine three or four years ago. I didn’t have the necessary printed rolling pin, but I used some cookies stamps to imprint them, and they were wonderful. With an irresistible chewiness, lots of spice from a big dose of black pepper, and a stunning beauty that came from the imprint and the glaze. I knew I’d make them again the following December.

Until the following December came and I couldn’t find the recipe. I realized, with horror, that I had neglected to clip the recipe, and the magazine had been long ago recycled.

I checked the magazine’s online archives. They’d started archiving the month after the recipe appeared. I called the local restaurant which had provided the recipe, and found out when the pastry chef would be there. I drove down to talk to her. The cookies were that good.

Alas, it turned out that the pastry chef had contributed a different recipe to the magazine. She couldn’t remember which other local chefs had contributed, and she didn’t have a copy of the issue. But she thought the chewy gingerbread cookies sounded delicious.


My local paper seemed to have stopped running its “Lost Recipes” Q and A column, which would have been my next option. I couldn’t figure out what else to do, and I resigned my fate to Christmases without chewy gingerbread tiles.

Then early last December, on a whim, I googled a bunch of gingerbread phrases. It was worth a try. And lo and behold, I found it! The right recipe! I believe I whooped with joy at my computer in the kitchen. I believe I whooped so many times that my family asked me to stop having a cow over a cookie recipe. (A response I’m sure they’re all willing to take back, after having tasted the cookies again.)

Turns out the recipe came from a renowned bakery in San Francisco, Tartine, which has been around for a few years. I haven’t made it there yet, but all reports are glowing. I did receive their cookbook for Christmas last year, and it’s lovely. Gorgeous photos that make you want to start baking immediately, and lots of insiders’ tricks that make it a good cookbook for bakers that already own a zillion cookbooks.

Once I was reunited with the recipe, I decided it was time to invest in my own beautiful carved wooden rolling pin. Sur La Table sometimes has them, but they run out in December, so I ordered directly from the company that makes them: House on the Hill. It didn’t arrive in time for Christmas last year, but we made a batch for New Year’s and gobbled them up before starting on our resolutions.

rolling out the gingerbread

Here’s a link to a blogger who made them with cutters instead of a pin. They’re lovely as well. You definitely want some sort of imprint on the tops, which she did with a butter knife. It’s the collecting of the glaze in the crannies that makes the cookies so pretty. We learned that with an imprinted pin, you have to really press down into the dough, so the imprint lasts through the baking. (The close-up photo at the top of this post is of some of our first cookies, which didn’t have firm imprints. The later ones came out even better.)

baking gingerbread

Last week Lulu, Mr. T and I made a quadruple batch and cut them into big 3×3 inch squares. We sold them at our local homeschool make-and-take craft fair. They sold out pretty quickly, probably helped by the bowl of sample bites we put out. It really is an irresistible recipe. We made $38 to add to our Advent Box, to help with the animal we’ll buy from the Heifer Foundation.

homeschool make and take fair

Now we have to make another batch this weekend for ourselves and to share. To all those other Christmas cookie recipes out there: Put up your dukes!

16 comments… add one
  • stefaneener Dec 18, 2008 @ 20:03

    My Mocha-Nut Butterballs will maybe see your tiles next week.

    But thanks for the recipe.

  • Laura Dec 18, 2008 @ 20:50

    I’m excited to try them! I had to laugh at your “put up your dukes” comment. Haven’t heard that in a long time. Missing the days of crab legs being eaten at your table. Looking at a Christmas tree in the background with it’s tiny wooden ornaments. Miss you.

  • Barbara Dec 18, 2008 @ 21:47

    Yum! I just posted a cookie recipe on my blog, but it’s the roll-out-and-slather-with-icing variety. I don’t think there are any elegant and delicious cookies in the cards for me this Christmas….

  • melissa s. Dec 19, 2008 @ 0:22

    with a story like that, i’ve gotta try these. and i’m kicking myself for not buying the beautiful carved rolling pin I saw at a flea market many years ago (because I had no idea what it was. shameful!)
    happy holidays & cookie eating!!!

  • suzee Dec 21, 2008 @ 22:27

    Your photos are as beautiful as the cookies, and they as beautiful as your children!

  • Lisa C Dec 21, 2008 @ 22:36

    Wow– those cookies look scrumptious! Your Advent traditions are beautiful (so is your tablecloth!) Merry Christmas Tricia!

  • Alissa Dec 23, 2008 @ 23:29

    Those look wonderful! I absolutely will be making these. And that cookie rolling pin is so pretty. Wow. Thank you!

  • Alissa Dec 23, 2008 @ 23:32

    Oh, also, I am curious about your advent box and can’t seem to get to wherever the link is supposed to go. It sounds like something I might like and I’m wondering what it is. If you have a moment to write, or another link to that post I’d love to see it. Thanks!

  • patricia Dec 29, 2008 @ 7:58

    Oops, thanks for noticing that the Advent Box link didn’t work, Alissa. It was a link to a post I wrote earlier this month. It’s fixed now!

  • KP Dec 11, 2018 @ 12:03

    I know this post is from 10 years ago, but you have me sold on trying the recipe that you found. Could you please send me the recipe (or tell me how to find it on this webpage?)
    Thanks! ~ Karen P

  • Paulina Graniela Nov 30, 2020 @ 7:25

    Hi Wonderfarm! Thank you so much for sharing your cookie story. I know this is a long shot, but any chance you would be willing to sell your carved wooden cookie pin now that you have had several years of use? I am certainly interested in purchasing it from you! Let me know if you are ready to part with it <3

    Thanks for your consideration!

    • patricia Nov 30, 2020 @ 22:28

      So sorry, Paulina, but if I sold my cookie pin, my family would be very upset with me for ending a long-running holiday tradition!

      I hope you can find one elsewhere.

  • Patricia Jackson Jan 4, 2022 @ 18:43

    Hello, again, Patricia. I just sent you an email about the gingerbread cookie recipe from a search for Tartine Bakery gingerbread. Thank you for writing back in the aughts about this very subject. Now I have found what I need. Thank you for your inspiration! Patricia Jackson

    • patricia Jan 4, 2022 @ 20:36

      Hi Patricia!

      I assume you found the recipe here in the comments. I just updated the post—13 years later!—with a working link. It’s such a great recipe. We still make them every year! My husband just polished off the last one yesterday. 🙂 Have fun with your new pin!

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