These little ginger cookies are perfect for Valentine’s Day, or whenever you’re feeling the love—and they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. A cousin of gingerbread but without the brown sugar, molasses, eggs and butter.
These cookies are akin to denser tea biscuits. They remind me of thicker graham crackers, and similarly, are not overly sweet or moist. They are nice with a cup of tea when you’re not in the mood for a big chocolate chip or oatmeal-raisin cookie. Enjoy!
- 6 ounces dates (9 to 10 Medjool or 18 to 20 Deglet Noor), pitted, and quartered
- ¾ cup water
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 to 2 vanilla beans)
- 2 cups whole-grain oat flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1¾ teaspoons ground dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ cup almond butter
- "all fruit" jam (optional; I used raspberry)
- Place the pitted dates, water, and vanilla into a small bowl and set aside for at least 15 minutes so the dates can soften. If it’s cold, set out the almond butter so it can come to room temperature.
- Place all of the dry ingredients (oat flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and clove) into a bowl and whisk.
- Transfer the dates, water, and vanilla to a blender, and add the almond butter. Blend on high until smooth.
- Pour the date mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until all the dry ingredients disappear. Form into 2 balls, and place into the refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking mat on each) before cutting the cookies in the next step.
- Remove 1 ball of dough from the fridge, flatten it with your hand, and then roll it out with a rolling pin to a thickness of between ⅛- and ¼-inch (see tips below in Notes). After rolling out, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the cookies. Once all have been cut from the rolled-out dough, place them on 1 of the baking sheets. Repeat with the left over and remaining dough, and place these cookies on the second baking sheet.
- Bake as is, or stamp a smaller heart outline into the center (using a smaller heart cutter), or add jam (see Notes and photos below). (Optional: I like to dust the cut cookies with a bit of sifted oat flour before baking to give a festive look.)
- Bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes (less time for thinner cookies, more time for thicker). Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store cookies at room temperature for about three days (beyond this, freeze them).
To add jam: Use a slightly smaller heart-shaped cookie cutter to press down a bit on the bigger cookie. Place ¼ to ½ teaspoon jam into the space, evening it out with your finger or the measuring spoon. (The sizes I used: the large heart cutter is 2½ wide by 2¾ tall, and the small one is 1¾ wide and 2 inches tall.)
Flour: I used whole-grain, store-bought oat flour for this recipe, since I wanted the cookie dough to have a smooth appearance; but you can also grind your own oat flour from rolled oats in a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix). If your dough feels too wet at any point, kneed in a little more flour.
Spices: This cookie is mildly spicy/gingery, so feel free to add more ginger, nutmeg and clove if you want more of a spice punch.
Cookie cutters: I used two heart-shaped cookie cutters for this recipe (see sizes above), but feel free to use other cookie cutter shapes and sizes, or even create small balls of dough and flatten them into circles (using your hand or a rolling pin or side of a cup). This recipe would work well for fancy holiday cookies instead of the traditional sugar cookie.
Recipe products: I used Hain brand sodium-free baking powder in this recipe, as well as these heart cookie cutters.
Above: The cookies without jam, dusted with a little oat flour (use a sifter to get an even dusting). Traditionally this would be powdered sugar, but I do not use any refined sugars in my recipes, so a little sweet oat flour is an option for a more festive look. (A dusting of grated nuts or seeds, using a rotary cheese grater, may also provide a similar effect.)
Above: This lighter-colored cookie dough is related to gingerbread, but it does not include molasses, brown sugar, eggs or butter, all of which I don’t use in my recipes but contribute to the darker color of traditional gingerbread cookies.
Above: To add a jam heart in the middle of the unbaked cookies, slightly press your smaller heart cutter into the larger cookie, and then spoon 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of jam into the space and spread it out evenly with the back of the measuring spoon or your finger.
Above: The finished cookies: plain, dusted, and with jam. There is not a lot of fat in this recipe, so the cookies are on the more biscuit-y side; but if you want them to be more crisp, just roll them thinner and keep an eye on the oven so they don’t over-brown.
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