Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Classic Gingersnaps

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas cookies, is it? Not for me. Gingernaps are some of my favorites - the crunch of the sugar topping, the soft and tender interior, the caramel-y molasses and the bold spices. It's familiar, and it's comforting, and cookies like these are the essence of why I bake.

I've been needing to get back to basics for awhile now. It's really easy to get swept up in this "blogging" thing, especially for someone like me who, for better or worse, can be a little but of a type-A perfectionist. I look at so many other bloggers and feel inferior because their photos are prettier or their recipes are tastier or their readership is higher, and instead of reminding myself to focus on my own goals and let everyone else excel at what they do best, I get off track. Before this blog, I would frequently adapt recipes to my liking, but never felt pressured to reinvent the wheel, and certainly never would have considered myself a "recipe developer". Now I find myself feeling a little guilty when I post a recipe that someone else came up with, which, of course, is not only silly, but also distracts me from my goal of sharing great recipes and hopefully helping others learn to bake or improve their skills.

My goal is to share the recipes I love, no matter who came up with them, and not doctor them just to keep up with the other bloggers whose goals differ from mine. These gingersnaps are a recipe I truly love, and one I've made for every Christmas since my first year out of college, when I picked up the wonderful and totally nondescript cookbook from which they came. I was trying to use up a gift card. Little did I know this book was totally worth full price.

The problem with most gingersnaps is that they taste delicious but the texture isn't quite right. Many recipes produce a batter that spreads way too much, producing a hubcap sized, crunchy wafer. That's a big oh-no-no in my book. Gingersnaps should be soft and pillowy and luxurious to bite into, their texture offering a comfort to match the rich and complex melding of spice and molasses that just makes you want to curl up in your PJs in front of the fireplace with a book, and never put on real pants again. This one fits the bill perfectly.

The recipe below is very true to the original, with the exception of making them into drop cookies, rather than refrigerating, rolling, and cutting the dough into shapes. It's really more of an efficiency adaptation than a recipe one.

These are the best gingersnaps I have ever had, and there is nothing I would suggest changing about this recipe, except, if you have the time and inclination, refrigerate the dough overnight, then roll out and cut into gingerbread men and women, like I did last year.

This recipe is a classic, must-have cookie for the holiday season, and I really hope you'll consider adding it to your holiday baking plans this year. In fact, go ahead and make a double batch to give as gifts or add to the Thanksgiving table. There is no better way to welcome the holidays than with a classic gingersnap!

Classic Gingersnaps
Adapted, really, really slightly, from the Christmas Cookies from the Whimsical Bakehouse cookbook

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar + more for garnish
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour, measured using the spoon-and-level method
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and molasses and mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda) to thoroughly combine and get rid of any clumps.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixer approximately one cup at a time, mixing on low speed just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between additions of flour mixture.

Use a 2" ice cream scoop to scoop balls of dough and roll the top half of the dough ball in granulated sugar. Evenly space six balls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake for 11-15 minutes until the cookies become puffy and the edges are very slightly golden brown.  These cookies are best when they are slightly undercooked after 11-12 minutes. If you want them to be all the way done, bake for the entire 15 minutes.

Makes 16 cookies.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


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  1. I looove gingersnaps! These seriously look perfect.
    And I think your blog is awesome :)

  2. Love these! I think I'm going to make them into gingerbread men for my nephews!

  3. Thank you, Colleen! And thanks for always reading and commenting. It really makes me happy to see your comments pop up in my inbox :)

  4. That sounds adorable! With your decorating skills, I know they will turn out just gorgeous. I hope you'll post or at least send me a picture of the finished product!

  5. YUMMM!!! They look SO GOOD! I love gingersnaps! I wish you lived closer so I could come by and get one or two, lol! :)

  6. I'll trade you a batch of mine for a batch of yours!

  7. I've been wanting to make gingersnaps for my kids all season! I'm so glad you posted this recipe because now I don't have to go searching. Sometimes you find the perfect recipe, & there's just no need to change it! Pinning! Ps- your photos are gorgeous, as always!

  8. Oh, I'm so glad I could help, Allie! I hope you and your family love these cookies as much as I do. Please let me know what you think!

    PS: Thanks ;)

  9. Yummmm, gingersnaps are one of my favorite holiday cookies. I love the sugar coating on the outside, and your cookies look wonderfully soft and tender. "...makes you want to curl up in your PJs in front of the fireplace with a book, and never put on real pants again." Touche! That's the life I dream about haha. But wow, you really sold the recipe to me. Now all I want to do is bake these gingersnaps! One question, would you be able to recommend a good substitute for molasses in the recipe? Thanks!

  10. Anne ~ Uni HomemakerNovember 17, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    I love how festive this post looks Nora! Homemade gingersnaps must be awesome. Pinned to multiple board. Have a fantastic week! :)

  11. Mine too Monica! The sugar coating is a little touch that makes a big difference. That initial crunch just *makes* the cookie because it contrasts so well with the texture of the center. These cookies are so comforting! Even if you don't live a life of leisure, at least you can pretend :)

    As for the substitution question, that's a good one. Ideally, a really dark honey would be best, but in a pinch brown sugar, any honey, dark corn syrup or maple syrup (really any dark, sweet syrup) would probably do the trick. I'm not sure how it would affect the taste though, since I've never tried it. I'd love to know how it works out if you do end up trying one of the substitutions! Hope you had a great weekend!

  12. I love me some gingersnaps! You described them perfectly! I'm in my jammies right now with a cup of tea and craving them like you would not believe!

  13. Thank you, Anne! I appreciate the pins :) Have a great week yourself!

  14. Aw, sorry to give you craving, Reeni. I guess you'll just have to make some.... ;)

  15. How festive!! These are perfect for the cold season.
    Never made gingersnaps before, they seem so inviting!

    { Teffys Perks Blog } X

  16. Thanks, Teffy! I hope you give it a shot - they are so easy!

  17. THEY'RE SO FLUFFY! That's what I was thinking while looking at every single gorgeous pictures haha. They look perfect!! I do not want any crunchy wafers in my life...that is for sure.

    And it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas cookies. I think that I think about Christmas cookies all year round. Seriously though.

  18. Cate @ Chez CateyLouNovember 18, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    You are so right - never too early for Christmas cookies! Your post just put me in such a festive mood. These cookies look delicious, and I just love how you styled them! Beautiful!

  19. I would eat a dozen of these gingersnap beauties! Looks amazing!

  20. There is nothing like a classic! I love ginger with a passion, and these cookies would hit the spot.

  21. There's no time in the day for a crispy gingersnap. I'm glad you agree :)

    Christmas cookies year round? You and me both! What are you making this year?

  22. Me too, Erin! If you're a fan of ginger, then these are the cookies for you.

  23. I love ginger biscuits, so Christmassy :-) the smell when they bake is amazing!

  24. You're so right, Joy! These will make your house smell incredible.

  25. I adore classic gingersnaps and these look so perfect. Can't wait to try this recipe. thanks for sharing.


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