Grandma Olsson's Ginger Cookies

Grandma Olsson Cookies, oh my kitchen party

Every year growing up, when December rolled around, there would be a scurry in the house. Not the one to collect gifts and wrap them. Or the one to make sure that the colour-y lights were up. It was the one to be absolutely positive that the molasses would pour, the heavy syrup wasn’t crystallized, and that the cloves were ready in the cupboard. Every year, no matter where we were or what we did, there were always Grandma Olsson’s cookies for Christmas; and Christmas was the only time that we’d make them.

They smell like playing with cousins and tobogganing on fresh snow and eyelashes freezing together and grandma hugs and new socks under the tree.

Grandma Olsson’s cookies came from the Swedish side of the family, from four generations and an ocean away, and always equal love. Here they are, loosely translated from the “pinch of this and glug of that” version to the modern era.

Gr at Gr andma Olsson's Ginger Cookies

  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. syrup (light corn or Roger’s Golden)
  • 3 tbsp. molasses
  • 1/2 c. strong, hot coffee
  • 1 heaping tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 tsp. ground ginger
  • flour to make a soft dough

Melt butter and shortening and pour into mixer bowl. Add sugar and beaten egg and blend. Meanwhile, stir the baking soda into the coffee (espresso works nicely here, for a bit of millennial cross-cultural blending: or pour some out from the perk that grandpa has had bouncing on the stove since 6am) and add it, along with syrup, molasses, and spices, to the batter. Mix. Add flour by the cupful until dough is soft but not too stiff. Roll thinly on floured surface and cut out with your best winter-themed cookie cutters. Bake at 350F for 7-10 minutes. Cool on pans on rack for a minute, then lift and transfer to rack until they are crisp enough to snap when you bite the arm off of a gingerbread girl. Or, pour yourself a cup of strong coffee and dunk just long enough to soften the cookie and not have it drop off into your cup on its way to your mouth. Either way: it’s love, in ginger.



  1. Lori-Ann says:

    Colleen–your mom sounds like she was the kind of woman whose company I could enjoy.

    Flour is there, but with no amount. This is the way to make them–more flour or less, depending on humidity and the baker’s taste.

    What’s missing is *butter,* 1/2 cup. It is to be melted with the shortening in the first step.

    Now, carry on. . .

Comments are closed.