Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ICED GINGERBREAD COOKIE STICKS (Edible #Coffee Stirrers) from ONCE UPON A GRIND by Cleo Coyle

Here's a slightly more sophisticated take on the classic gingerbread cookie, letting you serve with style and dunk and crunch with joy. 

It's a fun idea for dessert trays, holiday parties, or that cozy evening by your roaring fireplace DVD (and, yes, we have one). I have a little decorating tip for your holiday tables, too, but first the recipe...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Cleo Coyle's
Gingerbread Cookie Sticks

(Edible Coffee, Tea, or Cocoa Stirrers)

My readers will recognize this cookie 
from my Coffeehouse Mystery Once Upon a Grind.
During the book's Fairy Tale Festival in Central Park, where the first crime scene occurs, my amateur sleuth uses this recipe to create "beanstalk" cookie sticks for her landmark shop's coffee truck. 

Clare's merry band of baristas give the vehicle a Jack-in-the-Beanstalk makeover for the children's festival, so the cookies seem appropriate. Unfortunately for Clare, her coffee hunter ex-husband Matt brings his own "magic beans"coffee beans sourced from a legendary and very real area of Africa. And boy will they bring Giant trouble. 

These cookies, on the other hand, are designed to bring joy. Drizzle them with melted white chocolate or make your own vanilla glaze (recipe included). A final sprinkling of coarse finishing sugar will create a treat as pretty as a winter snowfall. May you bake them with love and eat with holiday joy!

~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a free PDF document with additional step-by-step photos, click here. Print, save, or share it.

Click here for free
recipe PDF.

Cleo Coyle's
Ice Gingerbread Cookie Sticks

Makes about 4-5 dozen cookie sticks, depending on size

For cookies:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (or 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves)
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature*
2⁄3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup molasses (unsulphured, not blackstrap)
1⁄3 whole milk (or brewed coffee)*

To finish:

Vanilla Glaze (see recipe below) and
Coarse finishing sugar (about 1/4 cup)

*Note: To make this recipe dairy free replace butter with non-dairy margarine and the whole milk with coffee or almond milk.

Step 1— Assemble the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice (or cloves). Set aside.

Step 2—Make the dough. Using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter and dark brown sugar; add the molasses and milk (or coffee) and blend again. While continuing to beat at a low speed, slowly add in your dry ingredients, blending to make a smooth dough. Do not overbeat, but be sure all of the flour mixture is incorporated. 

Troubleshooting note: The dough should be sticky and in the next step you will chill it to harden up the butter, but you may need to adjust the dough slightly, depending on your climate, brand of flour, and vagaries in measurements. All this to say: If your dough seems particularly wet, beat in a bit more flour. Just don't overdo it because too much flour will toughen up your cookie.

Step 3—Wrap and chill. Form the sticky dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap the two disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; overnight is fine, too. (If you’re in a hurry, place the dough discs in the freezer for 20 minutes instead.) The chilling will harden up the butter and make the dough easier to work with for the next step.

Step 4—Roll the dough. First, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chilled dough disks from the fridge and (if too hard) allow to warm just enough to become pliable. Place the dough between two sheets of lightly flour-dusted parchment paper. (This is a great method for rolling cookies because you will only need the lightest dusting of flour, which will keep the cookies from toughening up.) Roll your dough thin, about the thickness of a pie crust (around 1/8 inch). 

Troubleshooting: The biggest issue you may have in rolling this dough will be the dough’s stickiness. This will depend on your climate and the weather. If the dough becomes too warm as you roll it and it sticks too much to the parchment paper, simply slip the whole thing onto a pan and place the pan in the fridge for 15 minutes or freezer for 10. Once the rolled-out dough is chilled, it will firm up and easily separate from the paper.

Step 5—Cut the cookies. Remove the top layer of parchment paper. Use a pizza cutter to clean up the edges of your rectangle and slice into sticks. Do not move the sticks off the bottom parchment layer. Simply slip the entire sheet of parchment onto a cookie sheet.

Step 6—Bake. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. When the cookies are finished baking, you will need to recut them and you must do this while the cookies are still warm. Gently slide the entire sheet of parchment paper onto a cutting board or a sturdy counter surface and use your original slicing lines as a guide. The pizza cutter will make quick work of it, roll from the top down, as you see in my photo below, so you can easily follow your lines. 

Step 7COOL: You must allow the cookie sticks to cool completely before handling. If you try to move them while they are warm, they are very likely to crack and break (ask me how I know).

Step 8—Drizzle with glaze. Once cool, you can make the glaze (recipe below) or melt white chocolate and drizzle it on the sticks. Finish with a sprinkling of coarse sugar. 

Cleo's Vanilla Glaze

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon milk or cream (or almond milk)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for a whiter glaze, use clear vanilla)

Directions: In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add milk and whisk in the powdered sugar, a little at a time. When all the sugar is melted into the butter and milk, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. TOO THICK? whisk in a bit more milk. TOO THIN? Add a bit more powdered sugar and continue to cook it down until it’s thick enough. TEST: Before drizzling on your cookie sticks, use a fork and drizzle a bit on a plate. If you’re having trouble drizzling it nicely, then it’s too thick. On the other hand, if the glaze doesn’t harden fairly quickly after cooling, then it’s too thin. Finally, if the glaze hardens in the pan or becomes crusty, whisk it over heat and add a bit more milk, and you will be able to return it to drizzling consistency again, and...

Click here to download
this recipe in a
free PDF document.

Eat with holiday joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here

Sign up for my Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover!

Join coffeehouse manager
Clare Cosi as she solves the crime
against "Sleeping Beauty," opens
secret doors (uptown and down),
and investigates a cold case that's
been unsolved since the Cold War.

"Fresh and fun...clever" ~ Booklist
"Charming, vivid, memorable" ~ RT Book Reviews
"Wicked good" ~ Library Journal

Wonderful recipes are also featured in Cleo's 14th 
culinary mystery, Once Upon a Grind, including...

* Black Forest Brownies 
* Cappuccino Blondies 
* Shrimp Kiev (new photo!)

Shrimp Kiev from the recipe section
of Once Upon a Grind

* Dr Pepper Glazed Chicken
* Silver Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies
* "Fryer Tuck's" Ale-Battered Onion Rings
* Poor Man's Caviar 
* Caramel-Dipped Meltaways (new photo!)

Caramel-Dipped Meltaways from
the recipe section of Once Upon a Grind

...and many more recipes, including
a guide to reading coffee grinds...

See the book's
Recipe Guide (free PDF)

* * * 

Cleo also writes
The Haunted Bookshop

Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries, by clicking here.
Or learn more here. 

* * * 

Quickie Decorating Tip

A little reminder of a common way you can make your tables appear more festive and romantic during the holiday season. (Do you do this, too?) Find pretty glassware, making sure it's thick, sturdy glass. Fill or partially fill the containers with water and float tea candles in them. 

We use plain and scented tea candles: apple-cinnamon, berry, and French vanilla are all beautiful aromas for the holidays. Marc and I always have fun searching thrift stores for retro glassware of all shapes and sizes.

May your own holidays be bright! 

~ Cleo

Win Books and More!

If you are a subscriber to our Coffeehouse Mystery
newsletter, then you may have entered our
holiday giveaway by answering the
special question that we asked in our newsletter...

What is one of your most
treasured holiday memories?

The randomly drawn
winner of the
comment contest was...

Jessie S.
of Rio Rancho,
New Mexico


Thanks to everyone for participating
in our holiday memories contest.
Don't miss our next contest,
coming up soon.
If you would like to subscribe to our
ewsletter, click here

~ Cleo


  1. Not a creature was stirring, but with these we will be!

  2. What beautiful photos and what a delightful cookie to serve with coffee or tea. Yum! Cleo, love it! And a fun candle tip. Perfect. I do "do" that. So festive. Happy holidays to you, too!

    Daryl / Avery

  3. What a nice recipe and easy. The pictures are inviting as always. Makes you want to walk right into your computer.

  4. These looks so yummy and festive! I love the candle tip, too. Going to try both!

  5. Beautiful stirrers Cleo! And your table looks gorgeous. I think I might need some time in vintage stores to jazz up my decorations:) Happy holidays! xo

  6. Such a great celebration of the season here, Cleo, with your gorgeous decorations and photos. I love the stirrers! Something different and very delicious.

    Thank you!



  7. like to decorate the tree together

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. My nephew's first Christmas.... he was just starting to walk. It was a magical day for all of us.
    dotkel50 at comcast dot net

  9. The year my brother and his family came up from Florida for Christmas. It was a full house with 15 of us. After dinner and presents, we sat around the kitchen table and played a game of high-low-Jack.

  10. Buying the biggest Christmas with my family.

  11. 1964 at my folks home in northern MN. Grandparents came by train from PA, brother and family flew in from TX, my family drove up from southern MN. Only time we were all together - beautiful memories.

  12. Seeing two women cry when their mother who has not responded to anything in years smile at the sight of Santa.

  13. I was only 19 when I got married and we had no money (living on love for real!). Our first Christmas we had agreed that we wouldn't exchange presents because we simply couldn't afford it. My husband took my wedding bouquet (which was a lace fan with flowers on it) and secretly took it out and had the dead flowers replaced with a silk version of what I carried. He wrapped that and had it under the tree as a surprise on Christmas morning. I just found it so touching that he did something he knew would be so meaningful to me. It probably cost less than $10, but it is still one of my most special gifts I ever received because of the thought put into it.

  14. My favorite memory is the year my father urged my mother to go to Christmas morning church services alone because "the girls are so busy playing with their toys". As soon as she left (not too happy!), my dad hurried next door and came back with a floor console stereo (it was the sixties!) that he had bought her as a Christmas surprise. When she came home and heard Christmas music playing, she cried. It was a beautiful moment I'll always remember.

  15. Making Christmas cookies with my Aunt when I was a kid. Later when I had my own children, my Aunt continuing the tradition. Lots of fun, great memories and lots of colored sugar and sprinkles all over. Sadly, she passed away this year but my kids and I will always treasure that memory.

  16. My treasured Christmas memories will always be growing up on the farm and having my Grandfather and Aunt join us on Christmas Eve to open gifts and then the next day to have a big Christmas dinner. dbahn@iw.net

  17. Going to my Grandmother's house Christmas Eve, all the cousins, aunt and uncles crowded in this small house! wonderful memories..

  18. My first Christmas as a mother is one I especially treasure. Our son was nine-months old and interested in everything. We lived close enough to my parents that we could be together on Christmas day. It was wonderful.

    Thanks for the great recipe. (mochfly...)

  19. This looks so yummy! My most treasured memories are just being with all of my family at my grandma's house. It was about the only time we saw everyone together during the year. christy41970 at gmail dot com Merry Christmas :)

  20. I think I can actually do this! One of my most treasured memories of Christmas is the year all the kids, grandkids and great grandkids got together at my grand parents house for Christmas Eve dinner and we made over 300 Gyoza's!

  21. Thanks so much- those look delicious! (although I will probably make them with a dark chocolate drizzle, as I love pairing chocolate and spicy gingerbread)

    One of my most treasured holiday memories is the year I was put in charge of passing out gifts. In my family, everybody gets a gift and then opens them in order, so we can draw out the gift-giving, admire the item, etc. It was such a huge responsibility for me, that it really made me feel special. Plus, I got to wear the santa hat denoting that I was in charge of the gift distribution. For a little girl obsessed with fairness, and costumes, it was a special moment.

  22. These look so festive. I'm sure they taste as good as they look.
    Favorite childhood memory was when I got my Tiny Tears Doll. I've always been more the baby doll type person. Not so much Barbie unless my friends were playing with them. But this doll was special - so lifelike. I loved the stuffing out of her. A few years ago my daughter gave me a commemorative doll. It was smaller but it had everything the original came with - suitcase, diaper, bottle, etc. Now that one is in a glass case. 2nd best Christmas.

  23. Christmas 1968 my sister and I snuck into the living room to see what Santa left for us overnight. We asked for bicycles so were quite let down when we didn't see them by the tree. I looked on the porch and carport before we gave up and went back to bed with downtrodden hearts. Instead of jumping up and rushing Mom and Dad to open presents, Sis and I slept late. Mom had to wake us up and told us breakfast was getting cold. After trudging to the kitchen, what did we find next to the table? Yep two new shiny bikes! Later, as a parent myself, I realized my "Santa" didn't have room to put the bikes together in the living room, so the kitchen it was...

  24. One of my most treasured holiday memories was the first Christmas after my husband and I were married. We left everyone behind and spent Christmas through New Year's in Boston, just the two of us. It was fantastic!

  25. I remember the Christmas Dad wrapped a flour sifter for me. Then another Christmas he gave us all fresh-baked Philadelphia pretzels - hard as rocks by the time we got them! Do you think Dad had a theme? I know he loved my holiday cookies and I'll always smile as those memories come out with the sifter.

  26. My best memory is when we told my parents that they would be grandparents the next Christmas. That was 1989

  27. My best Christmas memory is from when I was twelve years old. My parents were older than most, having raised three children and then, 14 years later, having me, and were, in their words, "tired of Christmas", so we didn't usually do much. But that year, they decided we would take a day trip up into the mountains surrounding Tucson. We walked in the fir trees (such a nice change from cactus) and enjoyed the cool mountain air. It actually felt like Christmas. It was a great shared experience I will always remember. partial email: lweight@siuslaw.lib

  28. Love your books and recipes! My best Christmas memory was 18 years ago when my husband proposed.

  29. My favorite Christmas was last year when I had all my kids, my husband and my grandson here to celebrate...particularly since I had just finished radiation treatments on the 24th

  30. We almost always had a white Christmas but that year it was green, raining and forecasted to continue raining through Christmas Day. I took my younger siblings to church Christmas Eve. It was just miserable out. I will never forget the feeling I had when we came out of church an hour and a half later because we emerged into a winter wonderland. It had been snowing heavily for at least an hour. The beauty of it took my breath away.

  31. My favorite holiday memory has to be the Christmas trip to NYC that my husband planned....

  32. My favorite memory of Christmas was from 1955 when I was six and my dad was 27. Dad wanted to surprise me with a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve. He could only get the suit jacket and hat so had to come to the living room window. I begged him to come in but of course, he had to say he didn't have time. I also begged him to wait until my daddy came home but he had to get going since there were so many other children he had to visit. I was thrilled and sorry my baby brother was sleeping. This is my best memory because it was my last Christmas with Dad. He was killed the following September.