This is why you didn’t see posts last Friday and Saturday — we were busy making cookies. About 20 dozen cookies. Well, maybe only 18 or 19 dozen. Between making the batters and doughs, and the baking, we were quite busy. A good busy, but too busy to be writing. Three of the cookies we’d made previously, and you know about them: Chocolate Sablés, Herbs de Provence Cornmeal Cookies, and Almond Macaroons. All really good cookies, but we really wanted to make a new kind of cookie, too, something a bit more traditional: Gingersnaps.
If we’ve made gingersnaps in the past, it’s been so long ago that we’ve forgotten, but, fortunately, we have our trusty, well-used, best-ever, cooking reference book always within reach. The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Roumbauer and Marion Roubauer Becker. It’s the first place we look when we want to make something that’s new to us. This recipe is unchanged from the original version. Well, we added the rolling-in-sugar part, but listed that as optional (Scratchers will do it, though).
Eggs, as always come from those happy hens. The kind that live and forage on grass, or those that are kept by your neighbor. If it’s better for the hen, the eggs are better for you. If you have a scale, you’ll be happy that we listed the amount of molasses in grams, so you can just place your mixer bowl on the scale and pour in molasses until you reach the proper amount, avoiding the sticky measuring cup. Finally, this makes a boatload of cookies, so consider cutting the recipe in half.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment to make for easy cookie removal and cleanup. We thought the oven temperature seemed as if it might be too low, but it’s not. It’s correct.
Mix dry ingredients. Measure the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves into a medium-sized bowl and use a spoon or whisk to combine. Now, if you’re like us and only have whole cloves, you can crush them on a cutting board with the back of a spoon. They won’t be exactly like ground cloves, but they’ll work in the recipe.
Cream butter. This is really a test to see if your butter is warm enough. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the butter is smooth and glossy. If your butter is cold, this might take several minutes, but, if you let the butter warm properly, it should be 30 seconds or less.
Add sugar. With the mixer on medium, slowly pour in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is uniform and pale in color. It should also get a bit fluffy as air is beaten into the sugar. Let the mixer runs for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add eggs, molasses, and vinegar. Turn the mixer off and add the eggs, molasses, and vinegar. Since we have a scale, we find the easiest way to measure molasses is to place the bowl on the scale, tare it, and pour the molasses right from the jar into the bowl, stopping once we reach the correct amount. Place the bowl back on the mixer and combine on medium until somewhat uniform in texture, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture in three additions, pulsing the mixer to get it started without spewing flour, and mixing until just incorporated before adding the next. In between additions, scrape down the sides of the bowl. The only reason for the three additions is to keep the flour from shooting out of the mixer when it’s turned on.
Shape and sugar. If you want to roll the cookies in sugar, put about 1/2 cup into a pie plate to make it easy. Take a pinch of dough and roll it between the palms of your hands into a ball about 3/4-inch in diameter. Drop into the sugar, if desired, and roll to coat. Place on the baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie. Since the dough can be a bit sticky, we found it easiest for one of us to roll the dough into balls and the other to roll in sugar, and place on the baking sheet. It also helped to place the dough in the refrigerator while cookies were baking.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. The cookies will be puffed and have a crinkled and cracked surface when ready.
Cool. Use a spatula to remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will crisp as they cool. Let the baking sheets cool for about 5 minutes before preparing the next batch.
Great cookies, but a lot. And we mean a lot. We think we had about 12 dozen cookies, maybe even a few more, and, with the shaping and baking, it probably took a couple of hours from start to finish. But these are tasty cookies, with a nice crisp outside and a slightly chewy inside, and not a single chemically taste like those cookies that come in a chub. We think a full-sized batch of these will get four stars, just because of the time involved, but, if you make a half-batch, you’ll agree that these are five-star cookies in taste and texture.