A lot of people associate gingerbread and the spices combination in gingerbread – ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves – with winter and the December holidays. Gingerbread gals and guys, gingerbread houses, and cider or mulled wine flavored with those same spices are some of the holiday favorites.
But for me, gingerbread cookies make me think of Halloween.
When I was a little kid, my grandparents lived in a big house in a busy subdivision filled with kids of all ages. And every Halloween, they would pull the cars out of the garage and decorate it like a haunted house. My grandfather, in one scary mask or another, would jump out and scare them as they made their way through the haunted garage maze. When they made it out alive, my grandmother was waiting for them with hot apple cider and fresh baked gingerbread cookies. For a long time, I was too little and too scared to go through the maze – but I gobbled up my share of gingerbread cookies nonetheless!
So to this day, gingerbread cookies always make me think of my grandparents and Halloween. Store-bought cookies have never really done the trick and of course my grandma’s cookies, as delicious as they were, weren’t Paleo. So now, I make my Paleo gingerbread cookies, starting in October, and pretty much keep them coming through New Years.
So what’s the biggest difference between my gingerbread cookies and my grandma’s? It’s not the spices – ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves are, of course, key to any good gingerbread cookie. The first difference is that I use almond flour and arrowroot flour – both Paleo-friendly – instead of wheat flour. I promise you won’t miss the wheat flour one bit! And the second big change is that I use honey to sweeten by cookies instead of white or brown sugar.
Some people think that brown sugar is less processed than white sugar and therefore might be an ok Paleo substitute. But don’t be fooled! Brown sugar is just as processed as white sugar – it’s just made with molasses, which gives it the brown color. So stick with Paleo-safe honey as a sweetener for these cookies and other Paleo sweets. Honey gives you a more subtle sweetness, too and never leaves you with that over-sweet bitter taste like heavily processed sugar-filled foods do.
One final tip: remember that ground spices lose flavor and effectiveness over time so if you’ve had a bottle of ground ginger in your pantry since the last millennium, it might be time to go get a new one. You don’t want to miss any of the bright ginger flavor that your gingerbread cookies need.
And whether you make these for Halloween or a more wintery holiday – or just for a sweet and fun Paleo treat on any given Tuesday – remember to get out that icing and have fun decorating! Because what good is a gingerbread cookie without a fun design?
(Make this next: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies)
- 1 ½ cups almond flour
- ¼ cup arrowroot flour plus extra for cutting
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 5 tbsp honey
- Chocolate icing
- 1 ½ tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 ½ tbsp solidified coconut oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- Add the almond flour, arrowroot flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, all spice and cloves in a bowl. Mix to combine.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and honey. Mix to combine.
- Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment papers.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch. Freeze for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Dip cookie cutters into arrowroot flour then press them into the dough to create cookies.
- Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
- Let them cool completely before icing.
- To make the icing, melt the coconut oil and mix it with cocoa powder and honey.
- Place the icing in a small plastic bag and cut a small hole in a corner of the bag.
- Pipe the icing over the cookies.
- Keep the cookies in a paper bag at room temperature.