Gingerbread letters to Santa
December 7, 2022 by admin

** It has recently come to my attention that I had forgotten to write in the dark brown sugar to the gingerbread dough in the recipe. It is now fixed. My apologies!**

Ok, stop the presses. How cute are these cookies?? Answer: oh-so-cute! A delicious gingerbread cookie that does NOT spread, smooth royal icing and the look of writing your wish list to Santa on notebook paper!

Right off the bat, I’m going to say you need to make these with enough time in advance for Christmas; the royal icing on the cookies will need to set for 2-3 days until it will be firm and dry enough to write onto it with edible markers. I was too excited and tried to write on them too soon, only for the fine tip of my marker to poke right through the icing. *sad violin* Factor that time into your Holiday baking plans so that you’re not scrambling before everyone has a chance to write down their list for Santa!

I think the gingerbread cookie base is a total winner here – I made this recipe repeatedly until I had a great combination of a beautifully spiced gingerbread cookie that would appeal to kids, and that also would not spread much so that you can maintain the lovely shapes in your final cookie. You’ll see in the photo I used cookie cutters that were both fluted and in interesting shapes with minimal if any spread. (yay!)

The tricky part of this recipe is the royal icing itself. You will make two consistencies, one will be stiffer for piping the outline of the cookie and one will be slightly more runny from a few extra drops of water to flood the cookie. This may take a little practice until you get it just right, but there is a do-over button! Once you’ve piped the icing on, if it did not turn out as you were hoping, you can carefully scrape it off the cookie to discard and just try again. If you have any concerns about using raw egg whites, you can use pasteurized ones. Check out more of my tips at the bottom of this recipe for great results!

Gingerbread cookies

  • 3 ½ cups (420g) all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp/113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses, fancy and unsulphured
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup

Royal icing

  • 3 egg whites
  • 454g powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Water


Preheat your oven to 350F* (conventional oven).
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cornstarch, baking soda and spices. Whisk to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until just combined and dense, do not whip. Add molasses, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and corn syrup. Mix to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients until dough just comes together. Do not overmix. Lightly knead into a ball and roll dough out between two pieces of parchment paper to about ½” thick. Place in freezer to firm up. Cut out the cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 17 minutes or until edges are starting to darken slightly. Let cool completely on baking sheet for 10 minutes (cookies will continue to cook and firm up), then transfer to wire rack. Reroll scraps, chill to firm up and repeat until you’ve used all the dough.

Prepare two piping bags, one will be for the stiffer icing to outline your cookies and one for the slightly runnier icing to flood the cookies.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute. On low speed, add in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high, and whip until you have shiny, stiff peaks. Transfer several tbsp of the icing into the first piping bag. Cut a small hole at the tip and pipe the outline of each cookie. Let set a few minutes.

Transfer 1 cup (or more) of the remaining icing into a bowl. Add water, only ½ tsp or less at a time, until the consistency is a bit runnier. You’ll know it’s right when you can shake the bowl for about 10 seconds vigorously and the lines and peaks all settle down. Transfer to piping bag and cut a small hole at the tip. Working on one cookie at a time, flood the cookie then tap it firmly against your wrist to help settle the icing smoothly and help it flow and fill the entire surface.

Icing on cookies will take 2-3 days to set before you can write on them!
You can speed this process up by placing your cookies on a cooling rack or tray and leaving them overnight in the oven turned OFF with the oven light ON.

Do not refrigerate the iced cookies.
The damp moisture of your fridge is not a fan to icing.

*If your oven is convection, bake the cookies for 10 minutes.
Once icing is fully set and very hard, use a ruler and fine-tipped red and blue edible markers to draw the lines like a piece of paper. Have kids write their lists for Santa onto the cookies with edible markers.


When outlining the cookies, pipe one line at a time, then rotate the cookie 90 degrees and pipe the next line. Keep your lines straight by steadying the piping bag with a finger or two from your opposite hand. Scrape off and start over if you made a mistake!
Use the royal icing immediately or keep leftovers covered with a piece of plastic wrap touching the surface.

Follow me

About me

I'm Alina and I love making fabulous desserts. My goal is to teach you how to make delicious desserts from scratch to impress your guests, friends, and family!

Follow me

Subscribe to

Baking with Alina