Help. What’s the Difference?

[Greetings from the exams trenches. 12 days to go!].

It’s not as easy to find the perfect gingerbread cookie recipe as I thought it would be. Why, you ask? Because molasses and ginger does not always a gingerbread cookie make. In fact, the possibilities are ENDLESS:

  • Gingerbread Men
  • Gingersnaps
  • Ginger Cookies
  • Molasses Cookies
  • Gingerbread Loaf
  • Gingerbread Cake (or, cupcake)
  • Gingerbread Whoopie Pie
  • Gingerbread Trifle

Same basic ingredients, different…result. Confused yet? I am. It seems there’s much more nuance within the gingerbread-baked-good family than I ever dreamed. And what better time to obsessively research and pinpoint said nuances than finals season, otherwise known as that point in your life where time-wasters become the most important activities in the world.*

From what I’ve uncovered, the term “gingerbread” refers less to a singular product of baking and more to a style or family of baked goods. It’s an umbrella term, if you will, for a sweet primarily made of ginger and molasses. Gingerbread men (the cookie kind), while they seem to have just as much molasses as molasses cookies, have more flour, so a molasses cookie is probably much chewier. Ginger cookies and molasses cookies are flat, round and coated in sugar, whereas a gingerbread man is not [he’s just a man, man]. A gingersnap, on the other hand, has less molasses and “snaps” due to the kick of extra spices and its lengthy baking time. Gingerbread cake adds milk and extra egg to the mix, giving it the doughy, cakey, texture (it also has more molasses).  And gingerbread loaves look like they’ve got white, rather than brown, sugar in them. Hmm.

I’m in no way trying to set forth rules of gingerbread baking, nor am I saying I’m fully correct. These are just my initial conclusions after comparing and contrasting different recipes. I’m curious — what makes these recipes so different? What’s your favorite gingerbread recipe? I’m partial to the good ol’ man-cookie; however, I made gingerbread cupcakes last year and the molasses lends itself well to an extremely cakey cupcake that is to die for.

I’ll have to curb my cookie craving until tomorrow, though. For now, it’s back to [literally] cramming for Saturday morning’s Trusts and Estates exam.

* See also: Finding the perfect gingerbread cookie recipe, sweeping the floor, list-making of any kind, grocery shopping, organizing shelves, holiday shopping, cleaning out your e-mail, tweeting, people-watching, “running errands,” increasingly long work-outs, complicated recipes, Wii.


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Categories: Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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5 Comments on “Help. What’s the Difference?”

  1. Lauren Bingham
    December 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m partial to cookies. I love molasses cookies any time of the year- and those are very soft, chewy, and scrumptious. Gingersnaps are my favorite though- and they do have more spices, in addition to being a crispier- “snappy” cookie (although I generally underbake so that they stay nice and soft).

    • December 10, 2011 at 8:29 am #

      I’ve never had a molasses cookie. Shaun said his mom used to make them, too. Chewy cookies are my FAVORITE though, so I imagine I will love this…

  2. Michelle
    December 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    will you share your cakey cupcake recipe with us? 🙂

    • December 10, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      Ahh! I would love to. I’ll have to dig it out. I think it’s handwritten somewhere in a notebook (I made them as holiday gifts last year)…to be continued!


  1. My Obsession with Gingerbread: | Ryes and 'Shine - December 24, 2011

    […] really sort of a problem. It’s the only thing I ever want around the holidays, in any form. It’s my absolute favorite flavor, cookie, muffin, bread, you name it. There’s […]

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