Alcott · Little Women

Sneak Peek: Jo’s Gingerbread Nuts for Roars

Um, did we mention that we have a book coming out? Oh, only a thousand times already … but in case you need reminding, The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, and Friends will be out this October! It includes 68+ recipes, based on historical receipts from the 19th century, all for dishes and drinks from scenes in Little Women. Plus, don’t miss the “Which March Sister Are You?” personality quiz, historical trivia tidbits, and beautiful vintage illustrations by Frank T. Merrill. We’ll be posting a few sneak peek recipes here on our blog! Our first is a nice, easy crowd-pleaser: gingerbread nuts.

Gingerbread Nuts

New York, November
Dear Marmee and Beth,–
I’m going to write you a regular volume, for I’ve got heaps to tell, though I’m not a fine young lady traveling on the continent. When I lost sight of father’s dear old face, 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. (
Chapter 33: “Jo’s Journal”)

Makes more than 100 tiny cookies

Gingerbread Nuts 2

These are somewhere between Pfeffernüsse (which literally means “pepper-nuts” in German) and gingersnaps (which are still often called ginger nuts in the UK). Some recipes tell you to roll them out and cut them into thin circles, which you certainly can do, but we think they’re much cuter this way. Just right for distracting a grouchy child on a train trip, as Jo does on her way to New York.

  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Combine the molasses, butter, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and warm until the molasses bubbles at the edges and the butter is mostly melted, about 5 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool slightly, while you combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the molasses mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. You should have a fairly thick dough that will hold its shape when rolled in a small ball.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Roll the dough into ½-inch balls, about the size of a marble. Place them about ½ inch apart on a baking sheet, then poke the top of each one with your fingertip to flatten it slightly (boop!) and leave a little dip in the middle. They won’t spread much while cooking. It’s not in the original recipe, but if you like, you can roll the balls in sugar before putting them on the baking sheet. It gives them a nice crunchy crust.
    Gingerbread Nuts 3
  6. Bake for 8-15 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies. The shorter time will give you a softer, doughier result, and the longer time will be a hard crunchy cookie with a nice roasty taste. We couldn’t decide which one we preferred — try both!

3 thoughts on “Sneak Peek: Jo’s Gingerbread Nuts for Roars

  1. I just made these! I used my metal 1/2 teaspoon measure and molded the cookie dough and then flattened them with the bottom of a drinking glass. I got 66 little yummies that are about an inch in diameter.


  2. Oh no, only 66! Sorry about that.
    I would have thought 1/2 teaspoon would be about the right size, but cooking is never an exact science.
    Hope they were tasty anyway!


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