Browned Butter Gingerbread Lace Cookies

Photography, Recipe Development, and Food Styling by Thalia Ho

These delicate cookies from Thalia Ho are an elevated take on the traditional gingerbread, with nutty browned butter creating an unmistakable undertone of depth, complexity, and richness. The result is a character-filled cookie adorned with snowstorms of confectioners’ sugar. Find more holiday cookies in our 2018 Holiday Cookies Special Issue, here

Browned Butter Gingerbread Lace Cookies
Makes about 26
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (127 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup (110 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon (134 grams) molasses
  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 2⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (5 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (4 grams) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3 grams) table salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground anise
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1¼ cups (150 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until butter turns a medium-brown color and has a nutty aroma. Remove from heat, and pour into a small heatproof bowl. Refrigerate until softened, about 1 hour.
  2. Remove malleable browned butter from refrigerator, and reweigh it. Some butter solids will have reduced during the browning process, so add a little more unsalted butter to make up original volume, if necessary.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat browned butter and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla, beating until well combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves, anise, and pepper. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. Using a large wooden spoon, finish mixing by hand. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and lightly dust top with flour. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2½-inch round cutter, cut dough, rerolling scraps as necessary. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.
  7. Bake until edges are just firm and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on pans for 3 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  8. To decorate, place a small piece of lace or a doily over top of a cookie. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift confectioners’ sugar over top. Carefully remove lace or doily to reveal intricate pattern. Repeat with remaining cookies. These are best eaten on the day of baking, but they can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks.


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