By Vida Gustafson

Contributing Writer

I’ve carried this recipe around with me for decades and only started making this dish recently, partly because I didn’t think I could make it live up to my memories and partly because I couldn’t find Golden Syrup, the secret ingredient.

This is a cookie my neighbor’s mom used to make every year when I was little. As it’s an old-school South African recipe that makes a ton of cookies (this is probably why we were always lucky enough to get a plateful).

Nothing beats ginger in the winter months. It transforms an uncomfortably cold day into a snug, cozy one as if by magic. 

These are ideally crunchy outside and chewy inside, but you can bake them to whatever texture you like. Also, no nuts were harmed (or even used at all) in the baking of these cookies!


200 ml butter

1 C Golden Syrup *

5 C flour

20 ml baking soda

20 ml cream of tartar

1 tsp salt

50 ml dried ginger

625 gr brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

*Many grocers now carry Lyle’s Golden Syrup in the international aisle. If all else fails, you can use honey. Maple syrup will not yield the same results and is not recommended. That’s for another cookie on another day.


In a small saucepan, melt together the syrup and butter. Set it aside to cool. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, ginger and salt. In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and syrup with the brown sugar, then the eggs and vanilla.

When the mixture is uniform, add the sifted dry ingredients and work into a smooth dough.

Set the dough aside covered with a towel to rest for at least 2 hours in a cool spot or overnight in the fridge. 

When you are ready to get baking, set the oven for 350 degrees convection and roll the dough into ½-inch to ¾-inch balls. Set them on your baking sheet spaced about 2 inches apart, in alternating rows of 4 and 5. This size cookie will be crunchy outside and soft inside at 8-10 minutes. 

All batches are different and sometimes it takes a tray or two to find just how you want them to come out. If this freewheeling baking spirit is anathema to you, bake a single tester and time it! My 10-year-old son likes them barely cooked and I like them crunchy enough to withstand a good dunk in my coffee.

For a slightly larger cookie, roll into 1- or 1 1/2-inch balls and bake for 10-12 minutes. If you’d like them an even brown, rotate your baking sheet halfway through.