With the season's frost settling on the ground this crisp morning, I pulled out my cozy arsenal of autumn spices and whipped up these gorgeous cookies, filling the kitchen with warm aromas. I am that quick to adapt to the cooler weather. Why wait? It's never a bad idea having moist, crackled gingersnap cookies on hand.
I am of the mind that more is better here when it comes to spice. And fresh ginger adds a big kick to an already punchy cookie, a bright, peppery, deep essence. Lots of cinnamon is used along with cloves, allspice and cardamom, and even a jolt of espresso powder, a melange with personality that will leave your tongue practically singing. Partner these with strong, fragrant tea and a tart apple and you have yourself a mid-afternoon snack to remember.
In truth, these cookies have served me well other times of the year, such as summer time, besides a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream and a bowl of raspberries. I enjoy these on a dark winter morning with a steaming cup of coffee and a banana. Some would say a glass of milk makes the perfect partner. Any time is the right time for a great cookie. Whether destined for a party platter to share with friends or for solo munching in your kitchen, reading the newspaper, this is a cookie to keep in your tool kit and pull out all year round.
There are many gingersnap cookie recipes out there. I have tried and tasted MANY of them. This is the one I love the most, a kicked up and slightly modified version of the old stand-by from Joy of Cooking. Why does it work? Butter. Demererra sugar, with its rich flavour and dark butterscotchy feel. Lots of spice. Some whole wheat flour for old-fashioned wholesomeness and a hint of wheat. Molasses for chewiness and flavour with deep resonance. A roll in some granulated sugar, resulting in glistening crystals and a pleasing crunch. And careful baking, paying attention to not overbake these beauties, leaving them with a crisp outer shell that yields to a moist interior. With the signature crackles one comes to expect in a gingersnap, I offer you the best one I have ever met. Oh, you may have noticed from my photo that my cookies are huge, a handful of sugar and spice. I used an ice cream scoop to form tennis ball sized rounds which I then rolled in granulated sugar and flattened slightly with the palm of my hand. These larger cookies may need a minute or two longer in the oven.
Gingersnaps Recipe adapted from the 1974 Edition of The Joy of Cooking
3/4 cup butter, softened; 2 cups granulated sugar; 2 eggs, beaten; 1/2 cup molasses; 2 teaspoons white vinegar or fresh lemon juice; 2+3/4 cups all-purpose flour; 1 cup whole wheat flour; 1+1/2 teaspoons baking soda; 2 teaspoons ground ginger; 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves; 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom; 1 tsp. instant espresso powder (optional).
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until blended. Mix in molasses and vinegar or lemon juice and blend well. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, gingers, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and espresso powder if using. Stir well and add to wet ingredients. Mix just until the flour mixture is well incorporated and you have a cohesive dough. For cookies that are perfectly round, chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Form dough into 3/4 inch balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place 2" apart on a greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten cookies slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are set and the top is crackled. For giant cookies, form dough into 3" balls, roll in sugar, flatten and bake for about 15 minutes. Do not overbake if you like some chew to your gingersnap.
Makes a big batch of small cookies or about 10 large 4-inch cookies.
Indulge in the joy of baking cookies: