Pecan Spice Gingerbread Cookies


I scrunch my body up as tight as I can get it, my cashmere wrapped arms hugging my body as I frivolously search for warmth. Low hanging, putrid grey clouds hover above the cold, damp air. My lip lifts with a sneer. Leaves shiver on wind-tossed branches and those lucky enough to break free from the grasp of a desperately cold tree glide to the ground hoping to hug the warm earth. The sudden rush of cold air swirling about inspires my body to shiver.


Reluctant to leave the cozy, warm retreat of my pockets, my bare hands push up a big, itchy scarf around my ears; my rosy red nose and cheeks are visibly jealous of the attention my ears receive. With my camera bouncing at my side, the heavy body occasionally jabbing my hip with a rhythmic but familiar pain, I focus on my mission. My eyes pan the landscape searching, watching, wondering what picture waits to be made.


I should be enthralled with the potential pictures to be made, the stories to be captured and shared , the new environment and changes taking place as our giant home continues on its axial tilt. But I focus on the absent emotion in my heart and the lack of inspiration in my mind. A sigh escapes my chapped lips, the disappointment of my thoughts illustrated with a white puff of steam as my breath leaves my body. It dissolves into nothingness.


I avoid searching for an answer as to why winter is always so dark and destitute for me and instead try and find some sort of visual inspiration. I surrender. The cold tickles my bones with an unpleasant torture. The world around me, biased or not by my own mood, is too dark, drab and boring to shoot. Dancing red and yellow leaves loose their allure. Cloudy landscapes hold no appeal.


I retreat to my home and am welcomed with the warm embrace of my mother, a much needed hug. A rambunctious cat takes a moment to rub against my leg, and with a delicate meow or two he says, “hello, welcome home, my friend.”  I shed layers of clothes, letting the artificial warm air in the house do it’s job. Another sigh.


My cold, stiff hands soon find solace in manipulating my favorite ingredients – butter, flour, eggs and sugar. Warming as they become active, my eager hands add spices, molasses and some crushed pecans. Dough is rolled out, cookie cutters create beautiful shapes, and trays slide in the oven. Cookies cool, icing is made, and wintery, holiday shapes are dressed with clean white and silver dabs of sweet, sugary frosting.



The tinny clicks of a lighter attempting to create fire emanate from the other room before the sudden woosh of igniting air and the pleasant crackle of jumping red embers can be heard. Milk is heated, chocolate and sugar mixed, and mugs are prepared with big fluffy white marshmallows. My eyes browse the dozens of decorated gingerbread cookies. My warm, eager hands pick out some favorites and delicately arrange them on a white plate. I balance three mugs filled with piping hot cocoa and a large plate of fresh from the oven cookies in my two, overwhelmed hands. Carefully, slowly I make my way into the red and orange glowing living room.


I take my rightful place in between my mom and brother on the plush, shag-like rug. Smiles pierce each of our lips; the sight and promise of hot cocoa and delicious cookies erasing any disdain for the cold, drab season. As I munch on cookies and sip on warm cocoa, and as I laugh with my brother as stories of past christmas’s are shared by my mother, my empty heart is suddenly filled with that warm, fuzzy feeling. My mind no longer harbors resentment at the way winter treats me, but is filled with memories and thoughts of perfect moments with family and friends, moments that are only possible from a common desire to share a warm retreat from the cold.


Sometimes I forget what it means to be loved, and to love when I focus on the dark, short days – my own mind far too influenced by the visual world around me. Sitting around with family, enjoying sweet treats and stories – embarrassing or not – reminds me this time of the year is not so different from the other seasons. In fact, it may be just a little bit more special.

Pecan Spice Gingerbread Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe by:
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 6 ounces granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound 2 ounces all purpose flour
  • 8 ounces pecans, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ tablespoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • Royal Icing - optional (recipe below)
  • Sanding Sugar - optional
  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium speed if using a mixer.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  4. Add all of the dry ingredients, flour, ground pecans, baking soda and powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper and salt, to the bowl and mix until the batter comes together.
  5. Divide the batter into four portions. Flatten each portion and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour until hardened.
  6. Roll out each portion, one at a time, leaving the other portions in the fridge, to about ¼ inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookie shapes and place on a lined baking sheet. You can re-roll the left over portions and cut cookies from that as well - this dough will not suffer from continued re-rolling, though be careful about how much flour you use on the rolling pin and when rolling the dough out.
  7. Bake each sheet for 9 to 12 minutes until the cookies are just crispy on the outside and slightly firm when pressed in the center. Allow to cool on wire racks before icing. If you plan to ice the cookies, mix the royal icing and place it in a piping bag - you want the icing thick enough so it does not just seep out of the bag.
  8. Frost the cookies to your liking. I choose simple dots and lines for a simple, sophisticated cookie decoration. Of course, I couldn't help but add some colorful sanding sugar to the trees.
Royal Icing
Recipe by:
  • 10 ounces powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 drop lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Add of the ingredients to the bowl and whisk until combined and thick. If you are going to spread the icing with a spatula instead of pipe it, whip for a few minutes until the icing is slightly fluffy.



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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Food nerd. Cookbook author. Founder of Chasing Delicious. Pastry cook at Fluff Bake Bar. Lover of hot dogs. Russell van Kraayenburg founded Chasing Delicious in 2010 and has been chasing delicious recipes ever since. Russell is author of the cookbooks Haute Dogs and Making Dough.


  • Stephanie

    I really love this post. Its so so cold here for so long during the winter yet a teeny tiny part of me knows that I just wouldn’t be happy living somewhere without it. The layers of clothes and hot drinks and forced inside time with loved ones is something that I actually enjoy

    you know.. until march and then I’m all “omg kill me now..”

    The cookies are beautiful too!

  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    Your cookies are gorgeous! when I decorate cookies, it looks like a 7 year old did the job. I wish I had the patience and skills that you have! BTW, I live in sunny CA where the temps don’t drop below freezing. It’s amazing. I do miss the white christmas, but when I’m outside planting in January, I don’t envy the white stuff at all. :)

  • nicole {sweet peony}

    all of the spices sound delicious! i love how your photos turned out- my favorite is the “dancing” trees :)

  • Kiri W.

    Wow, these look gorgeous! :) I love gingerbread, and these are so festively decorated, too.

  • Cassie

    Gorgeous Cookies, Russell. I love your stories always!

  • Janet@FCTC

    Loved the post :-)

    And definitely love the cookies. Gingerbread is a personal favorite and these look so pretty!

  • Jon

    Another gorgeous post as usual. I always enjoy reading your stories, as they are always well written, relatable and comforting. Good job. I happened to be reading it at my sister’s house, she noticed the pictures and decided she wants to make them. I’ll let you know how they turn out ;)

  • Maggie @MaggieCooks

    Just got a new oven installed and im ready to bake some cookies for christmas! :)
    Bookmarking this cookie recipe!! :D

  • kelly

    Just finished a long day at work…and enjoyed the read. Ditto on the winter front…I don’t like it either even if I live in sunny southern CA. I just baked a batch of cookies last night. Your right, it makes your day fill bright.

    • kelly

      “feel bright”

  • Thea

    thanks for the “print button”, wonderful!

  • Rosie @ Sweetapolita

    I love your heartfelt posts, Russell, and, as always, your baking and photography are perfect. I love spice/gingebread cookies so much that I often eat most of the dough before I even get the cookies in the oven (kind of gross, if you think about it?). If I do get them into the oven, they rarely get decorated because I love them just the way they are! Yours look fabulous and I love the classic way you decorated them all. So pretty!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    You know what always brings me back to your site? It’s the fact that I know I’ll get a little peek into who you are.

    It also helps that you make fabulous looking cookies. :-)

  • Sharyn Dimmick

    Never thought of putting ground nuts in gingerbread, Russell, but I bet they are good. They look nice — I like your restrained use of icing on some of them. I made rolled and cut cookies today, too — the maple-nutmeg ones from Smitten Kitchen: delicious! I, too, like your stories.

  • Vanessa

    **gasp** how cute!

  • Tina@flourtrader

    The combination of the pecans and molasses tells me that these are delicious without icing. However, the icing does make them a little more eye catching and festive.
    The best winter days I feel are the days when it is sunny and the snow just sparkles! I wish you a day of sun and sparkly snow.

  • Ken @ hungry rabbit

    I would love to receive a stack of these lovely cookies in the mail. Please pretty please

  • RavieNomNoms

    These are so cute! Nicely done

  • Magic of Spice

    What a lovely post! These cookies are just gorgeous and the recipe is fantastic!

  • Lora

    What a cozy evocative post and lovely cookies!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    your cookies are…gorgeous!

    my 4 year old (and I) would love to help you eat them :)

  • Becky

    I love your snowflakes, so pretty. If it would snow gingerbread snowflakes, I would be happy:) I might just have to make these!

    Congratulations on the Top 9 today!

  • Kaitlin

    So beautifully written. Love the recipe and love the story :)

  • Jay @

    Nostalgia rings true in December. Thanks for a thrilling story and lovely recipe.

  • Cristina

    very festive cookies, them are so cute!

  • sarah

    Oh my- These. Are. Gorgeous.
    And perfect for the first of many chilly, chilly days…

  • Ann P/

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! It led me here, where I discovered all of your amazing recipes and photographs! JUST GORGEOUS. :) You’ve got a real talent, and have gained yourself a new subscriber!


  • BigFatBaker

    Gorgeous! This was the final push I needed to start my gingerbread house :)

  • kitchenriffs

    I love the healthy dose of ginger you have in this recipe! Really nice amount of spices in this cookie – sounds perfect. And your photos, as always are great. Thanks for another truly nice post.

  • Denise

    Quite what I needed today. This is like the hug your mother gave to you, but more so of a mutual understanding ache that had been creeping up on me (and I ignored) ever since the sun sets at 4. Winter is not my best. Thank you. I’m having the warm, fuzzy feeling now (:

  • Amber, RD

    Beautiful cookies! And I love the idea of adding pecans to gingerbread. Pecans make everything better!

  • Amy at Gastronome Tart

    I have been looking for a gingerbread cookie recipe that is different from your average gingerbread cookies. These look amazing! Great job on the icing!

  • Vote for Your Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipe | Yummly

    […] 2. Pecan Spice Gingerbread Cookies by Chasing Delicious […]

  • Contest Finalist: Pecan Spice Gingerbread Cookies | Yummly

    […] Pecan Spice Gingerbread Cookies by Chasing Delicious […]

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Beautiful cookies! The flavor sounds divine, and I just love the way you decorated them!

  • Elizabeth

    These are beautiful and look delicious!

  • love2dine

    Wow, these look delicious… I’m definitely gonna give them a try. Thanks!

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