Jo's Gingerbread Nuts: Tiny Gingerbread Cookies from The Little Women Cookbook - Alison's Wonderland Recipes (2024)

Can you believe Christmas Eve is just TWO WEEKS away? After such a chaotic year, I’m so ready for the cozy familiarity of the Christmas season. For today’s recipe—the final post in my fiction-themed cookbook recipe series—I wanted to make something festive, fun, and chock-full of holiday spices. I found just what I wanted in the delightful LITTLE WOMEN COOKBOOK by Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada, co-creators of the blog 36 Eggs.

Their cookbook is a thoughtful, creative compilation of recipes inspired by the Louisa May Alcott classic. Many of the recipes are as close to period-authentic as possible, a detail I appreciated. Today we’re making their recipe for tiny, crunchy gingerbread cookies called “gingerbread nuts!” In LITTLE WOMEN, Jo shares some with some children who are getting antsy on a long train ride to New York. These cookies are super easy and a bit unique too!

First, they’re quite small—only about an inch across when finished, hence the name “nut.” Out of curiosity, I experimented with doubling the size to make them more like a modern thumbprint cookie, but I didn’t like it as much. They came out dense and a bit chalky.

Secondly, these cookies are a bit less sweet than you might expect, a common characteristic of historical desserts. There definitely IS a sweetness to them, but it’s delicate. The spices are the real stars here—perfect if you’re not a fan of super sugary desserts. If you want something closer to a modern dessert (which I recommend if you’re making these with children), Jenne and Miko make a great suggestion: rolling the cookies in sugar before baking. It’s not a strictly historical edition, but I preferred the extra sweetness and fun crunch of the sugar coating.

Just keep in mind that this makes a LOT of cookies (over 100!). Luckily, this is an easy recipe to cut in half or even a quarter.

Jo definitely knew what she was doing when she offered these to the kids on the train. My kids are 2 and 4, and they went gaga over these. The 2-year-old kept getting trouble for grabbing more when we weren’t looking. I think I might have a baby Jo on my hands! 😉

“…I felt a trifle blue, and might have shed a briny drop or two, if an Irish lady with four small children, all crying more or less, hadn’t diverted my mind; for I amused myself by dropping gingerbread nuts over the seat every time they opened their mouths to roar.

— Little Women

Jo's Gingerbread Nuts: Tiny Gingerbread Cookies from The Little Women Cookbook - Alison's Wonderland Recipes (5)


  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra sugar, if coating cookies in sugar

Makes 100+ 1-inch cookies


    1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the molasses, butter, and sugar until the molasses is bubbling at the edges and the butter is mostly melted (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to rest while stirring together the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, sans the extra coating sugar.
    2. Pour the molasses mixture into the bowl and stir until well combined. The dough should be thick and hold its shape when rolled between your fingers.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. While you wait for the oven, roll the dough into 1/2-inch balls, placing them about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. If coating, roll them in the extra sugar before placing. Press each one down with a fingertip to flatten slightly. PRO TIP: The dough is easier to work with while it’s warm, so try to avoid mixing in a metal bowl, which can sap the heat. You can also flip the dough over if one side starts to get hard to work with. This helps it retain heat longer.
    4. The recipe says bake 8 minutes for a softer cookie and 15 for a crunchier cookie. Mine were already crunchy by 8 minutes (which was perfect for me because I like them crunchy anyway). However, if you prefer yours soft, I recommend test-baking a small batch for 5-6 minutes, then waiting for them to cool. They’ll be soft when they come out no matter what, so you won’t know the final texture until they’ve cooled.
    5. Serve to some rambunctious children on a train ride to New York!

      For more fictional food, check out my new cookbook, A LITERARY HOLIDAY COOKBOOK! 🙂 It includes full menus of food for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Years, including recipes for delectable gifts you can give your guests!

      Jo's Gingerbread Nuts: Tiny Gingerbread Cookies from The Little Women Cookbook - Alison's Wonderland Recipes (8)

Check out my other Little Women recipes! 🙂

Jo’s Christmas Gingerbread from Little Women

A March Family Christmas: Roasted Turkey Roulade


Jo's Gingerbread Nuts: Tiny Gingerbread Cookies from The Little Women Cookbook - Alison's Wonderland Recipes (2024)


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