Near the climax of Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix, our protagonist sits down at the desk of Professor McGonagall, the understanding yet stern head of Gryffindor house. Harry has just committed a major infraction and is expecting to be chastised for his offense…but instead, the professor offers him some ginger newts from a tin on her desk. These cookies offer a moment of levity during a stressful scene, and during my recent reread, I knew I had to try making them myself.Jump to Recipe
These ginger newt biscuits (or cookies, if you’re American) fall somewhere in the space between ginger snaps and true gingerbread. They have a crunchy exterior with a soft, chewy center – not quite robust enough to use for a gingerbread house, but also more rigid than the ginger snaps your grandma used to make. My husband doesn’t enjoy the texture of either ginger snaps or gingerbread, but somehow these ginger newt cookies found the perfect middle ground for him. I had to keep an eye on these cookies while taking pictures, because he kept “magically” making them disappear.
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These ginger newts make spectacular tea cookies. I like them best with a hot cup of rooibos, but honestly, they would be a delightful accompaniment to any hot beverage on a cold fall or winter day. Dunking them in the tea is encouraged, but entirely optional.
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, “Have a biscuit, Potter.”
“Have a biscuit,” she repeated impatiently, indicating a tartan tin of cookies lying on top of one of the piles of papers on her desk. “And sit down.”
There had been a previous occasion when Harry, expecting to be caned by Professor McGonagall, had instead been appointed by her to the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He sank into a chair opposite her and helped himself to a Ginger Newt, feeling just as confused and wrongfooted as he had done on that occasion.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
My ginger newt cookie recipe is inspired by King Arthur Baking’s recipe for ginger snaps. While most ginger snaps are a “drop” cookie – where you simply plop the batter on a pan – these ginger newts are designed to be rolled and cut out. While you are welcome to cut them into tiny lizard shapes, basic rectangles or circles will work just as well, and will probably save you a little bit of time in the long run.
If you’re making these ginger newt biscuits for a Harry Potter party and are looking for a few more themed recipes, you’re in luck: I’ve also made pumpkin pasties and butterbeer for you to share with your guests. I’ve also done a whole series of bookish bakes, in case you’re in the mood for other vaguely nerdy recipes.
These ginger newt biscuits call for all of the standard cookie ingredients – sugar, butter, flour – as well as a few key additions to give these cookies their characteristic spice. You will need:
- Granulated sugar
- Fresh ginger
- An egg
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Ground ginger (yes, ginger is in here twice!)
- A few other spices – cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg
How to make ginger newts
Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in the molasses and fresh ginger before beating in the egg.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Slowly mix this into your wet ingredients. Once all ingredients are completely combined, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Remove your dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Use a lizard cookie cutter (or the shape of your choice) to cut out the ginger newt cookies. Re-roll any remaining dough and the repeat the process until you have used it all.
Transfer the cutouts onto a prepared baking sheet and place them in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. (This will help your newts maintain their shape while baking. This is crucial when your ginger newt cookies have tiny lizard arms and legs, but less important if you are cutting your cookies into more basic shapes, like circles or squares.)
An optional, final step before baking: you can dust your ginger newts with additional granulated sugar. In the pictures below, you can see that some cookies have received this treatment and others are plain. I found that this sugar dusting did not impact the taste, and only barely impacted the texture; proceed with whichever option you prefer.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once it has preheated, bake your cookies for 8-12 minutes. Transfer the finished ginger newt cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Voila! Your ginger newts are finished! Did you make these for a Harry Potter marathon, or perhaps you just wanted a good tea cookie? Regardless of your reasoning, I would love to see your creation. Feel free to tag your social media posts @WhiskAverseBaking to show off your ginger newts. You can also leave a message in the comments below, or click “Pin Recipe” to save these cookies for later.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 egg
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar for decoration optional
- Cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in molasses and fresh ginger before beating in the egg.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Slowly mix this into your wet ingredients.
- Once all ingredients are completely combined, wrap your dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- Remove your dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to create your favorite shapes and transfer the cutouts onto a prepared baking sheet.
- Return the cutout cookies to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Optional: Dust your cutout cookies with a light layer of granulated sugar prior to baking.
- Bake your cookies for 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.