Mavrodaphne wine adds a Greek twist to an all-time favorite Christmas cookie! These gingerbread cookies are slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy inside. They are easy to make and hold their shape perfectly. This recipe is also a real time-saver because you don’t need to chill the dough!
Nothing says Christmas like gingerbread cookies! I make them together with the traditional Greek christmas cookies, Melomakarona and Kourabiedes. They also make really nice gifts, too, because they keep so well!
This year, though, I wanted to experiment and make something we could also have during the Orthodox Christian Nativity fast, which is mostly vegan. So, this recipe is vegan, although you could adapt it for non-vegans, as well. For example, you could use regular butter instead of vegan butter/margarine, or regular milk instead of vegan/plant-based milk.
I introduced a Greek flavor to this recipe by adding some Mavrodaphne wine. In my opinion, the result is extraordinary!
Mavrodaphne wine gives these gingerbread cookies a beautiful subtle flavor. It really pairs well with the spices, too! It’s a unique flavor combination!
WHAT MAKES THIS RECIPE STAND OUT FROM TRADITIONAL ONES:
- NO CHILLING REQUIRED! Unlike classic gingerbread cookie recipes where you need to chill the dough, this recipe is pretty quick and convenient because you don’t have to do that. Just roll it out, cut out the cookies and bake! It’s a HUGE timesaver! How many of us actually have a couple of hours to spare to wait for the dough to chill??
- You don’t need a stand mixer OR a hand mixer! No creaming the butter and sugar here! You just fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones! It really couldn’t be any easier than that!
- You don’t have to flour your work surface or rolling pin! Just roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper. No extra flour, no mess, no fuss! This also makes cleanup a breeze!
- Amazing dough! The dough is a DREAM to work with! It doesn’t even crack while you roll it out (*check out the picture tutorial below)!
- The cookies DO NOT spread! The cookies really hold their shape well. They don’t really puff up or spread at all. I took pictures of the cookies before and after I baked them. As you can see, there’s not much of a difference - they really maintained their shape! Check out the photos below!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour.
- Margarine: I always use block margarine, not the spreadable tub kind because there’s too much moisture in it. Margarine makes the dough really pliable. If you want, you could use vegan butter or regular butter.
- Mavrodaphne wine : This is the secret ingredient! If you don’t have it, you could omit it from the recipe, but it will have a different flavor. I’ve tried it with and without the Mavrodaphne wine and it’s still delicious, but the Mavrodaphne wine really gives it a richer flavor!
- Spices: I use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, of course!
- Sweeteners: I use molasses and dark brown sugar.
- Salt: I use a little to boost the flavors.
- For the Eggless Icing I use powdered sugar, cornstarch, and some plant-based milk.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Mavrodaphne wine is a traditional Greek wine. It’s sweet and dark brownish red in color. It’s also known as a dessert wine, similar to Port. It’s most commonly made from a dark grape variety from the Peloponnese, an area in Greece that is famous for its wine-making since ancient times. It is an excellent aperitif, but it’s also used in cooking and baking today.
Mavrodaphne wine has a unique exotic aroma and flavor. It’s rich and sweet with subtle hints of caramelized raisins.
Of course! If you don’t want any alcohol, you could easily replace the Mavrodaphne wine with regular milk or a plant-based, non-dairy milk for a vegan option.
If you don’t have molasses, you could replace it with equal amounts of good-quality honey. The taste will be different, though, as molasses has a very distinct flavor. I’ve made these cookies with honey and they were much lighter in flavor, but I much prefer them made with molasses! Molasses and Mavrodaphne wine really compliment each other!
Yes! Just wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and then put it in a freezer-safe container. You can freeze the dough for about a month.
Sure! There are 2 ways to get crunchier cookies. You could either roll the dough really thin before cutting them out and baking them. Or, you can bake them a few minutes longer.
These cookies will last for about 2 ½ weeks in an airtight container.
I store them in an airtight container. You could also put a small piece of parchment paper between each cookie to prevent them from sticking together.
Yes! I always freeze my cookies undecorated. I wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and then I put them in a freezer-safe container. You can store them in the freezer for a couple of months.
5 IMPORTANT SUPER TIPS!
SUPER TIP #1: MAKING THE DOUGH
In the recipe, I started off with 2 ½ cups flour and ended up adding ½ cup more to get the right consistency. You should just add enough flour, a little at a time, until it comes together and doesn’t stick to your hands. This dough should be thick enough to pick up and hold in your hand (see the picture tutorial below).
SUPER TIP #2: PREP YOUR COOKIE CUTTERS
Have a small bowl of flour nearby and dip each cookie cutter in it before placing it on the dough to cut out shapes. This will help prevent any dough from sticking to the cookie cutters.
SUPER TIP #3: HOW TO MAKE USE OF AS MUCH DOUGH AS POSSIBLE
Whenever I make these cookies (or any cut out cookies), I need to use up as much dough as I possibly can, because I don’t want to roll it out too many times, as this would risk overworking the dough. If you overwork the dough, it can make the cookies tough and hard.
Here's what I do to avoid this:
After I roll out the dough, I place my cookie cutters as close together as I can. That way I make use of as much dough as possible because I have fewer scraps to re-roll.
SUPER TIP #4: HOW TO PREVENT THE COOKIES FROM SPREADING WHILE BAKING
I don’t use any baking powder or baking soda in this recipe, so they aren’t very light and airy. However, I found that omitting the leaveners made a stronger cookie - perfect for packing and shipping them without sacrificing the flavor.
SUPER TIP #5: HOW TO PREVENT THE COOKIES FROM LOSING THEIR SHAPE WHEN TRANSFERRING THEM TO A BAKING SHEET
Here’s a trick I do that keeps the cookies from falling apart or getting misshapen when I transfer them onto a baking sheet! It’s really simple!
First, cut some parchment paper the same size as your baking sheet.
Place your dough on top of the parchment paper and then place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough. If you want, you could use plastic wrap on top, instead.
Roll out the dough to your desired thickness.
Then LIFT OR SLIDE the entire sheet of parchment paper onto your baking sheet.
Remove the top parchment paper & cut out your shapes with your cookie cutters.
Then carefully remove all the scraps.
This trick is perfect for whenever you’re making really intricate cookies, too, because you don’t touch the cookies at all!
HOW TO MAKE GREEK STYLE GINGERBREAD COOKIES
ABOUT THIS EGGLESS ICING
This eggless icing isn’t runny like a glaze, it’s much, much thicker.
The reason why I wanted to make it thick is because I wanted to make detailed designs on the cookies, like I would with royal icing. However, whenever I made regular glazes (which are great to use in squeeze bottles), the design would often spread on the cookie.
This was never a big deal for me when I made really big cookies, but for smaller ones, I could never get the intricate details I wanted and I didn’t want to make traditional royal icing because it uses egg whites.
So, after a lot of experimenting, I came up with this eggless, vegan icing.
One thing to keep in mind with this icing is that it’s really thick. As a result, it doesn’t spread on the cookie and the design dries hard. The consistency needs to be so thick that it won’t come off the spoon unless you shake it off!
Then you can use a pastry bag to decorate the cookies. I used a Wilton tip #4 for the cookies in the pictures.
Here’s a picture tutorial:
HOW TO MAKE EGGLESS ICING
MORE TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- The size of the cookies will affect the overall baking time. Smaller cookies will need less time as opposed to larger ones.
- Don’t bake them longer than 10 minutes unless you want really crunchy cookies. The cookies will harden as they cool on the baking sheet.
- The egg free icing can be colored. I would suggest using a thick gel paste, so it doesn’t affect the consistency of the icing. I use Wilton gel food coloring. You only need a really tiny amount. Start off with a small amount using a toothpick.
MORE CHRISTMAS RECIPES!
- Melomakarona - Greek Christmas Honey Cookies
- Kourabiedes - Greek Butter Cookies
- Chocolate Pomegranate Bark
Let me know how these Greek style gingerbread cookies turn out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
Have a Merry Christmas!
Greek Style Gingerbread Cookies (NO CHILL, NO SPREAD)
For the cookies
- 2 ½ cups (254 g / 9 oz) all purpose flour (+ up to ½ cup more if needed)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cups (113 g / 4 oz) block margarine (not spreadable kind)
- ¾ cup (150 g / 5.3 oz) packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons / 2 fl oz) mavrodaphne wine
For the eggless icing
- ½ cup (60 g / 2.1 oz) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1-2 teaspoons vegan/plant-based milk
For the cookies
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt and spices together. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add the margarine, sugar, molasses and wine and whisk everything together over low heat until the margarine melts and the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones (I start byusing a spatula & then I use my hands). If the mixture is too wet, add more flour, about ¼ cup at a time, until it comes together and doesn’t stick to your hands. You may need up to ½ cup more to get the right consistency. The dough should be just stiff enough to pick up and hold in your hand (see the picture tutorial in the post). Don’t overwork the dough.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F / 180° C.
- Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to your desired thickness (I roll out mine about ¼ inch / 0.5 cm thick).
- Then lift or slide the entire sheet of parchment paper onto your baking sheet.
- Dip your cookie cutter in some flour.
- Remove the top parchment paper and cut out different shapes as close as possible.
- Carefully remove all the dough scraps.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes.
- Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating with icing.
For the eggless icing
- Mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
- Stir in the milk, a FEW DROPS at a time, until it’s smooth, but thick. Use the back of the spoon to remove any lumps. If necessary, add more milk or powdered sugar to get the right consistency. If you accidentally add too much milk, just add more powdered sugar. The consistency is perfect when the icing doesn’t fall off the spoon unless you shake it off (see the picture tutorial in the post).
- Put the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a tip and decorate.
- Allow the icing to dry, about 1 ½ - 2 hours.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container for about 2 ½ weeks.
- The number of cookies will depend on the size of your cookie cutters.
- If you bake these cookies longer than 10 minutes, they become harder and crunchier.
- The cookies harden as they cool on the baking sheet.
- The dough can be frozen for up to a month. Just wrap it in some plastic wrap and then put it in a freezer-safe container.
- Undecorated cookies can be frozen for a couple of months. Just wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and then put them in a freezer-safe container.