I woke up in a baking mood today (perhaps it’s the pending snowstorm that’s supposed to hit tonight) and decided to make some gingersnaps. These are an adaptation of the “Elevator Lady Spice Cookies” from “The I Hate to Cook Book,” by Peg Bracken, published in 1960. I’ve always loved Peg’s sassy writing style and unfussy recipes, and my mom, sister and I have been making these cookies for decades.
Once I made a batch with blackstrap molasses because I didn’t have any ‘baking’ molasses in the cupboard. The flavor was so drastically improved, I’ve never gone back. And then I found a bag of Australian crystallized ginger at the little gourmet food shop and tried chopping it and mixing it in the recipe. The result is a nice little crunch in the chewy cookie and a very bright ginger taste that dances in the mouth…definitely a worthy addition.
Last year I read a recipe for “Triple Ginger Cookies,” that also called for minced fresh ginger to be added to a ginger cookie batter. I tried that in this recipe, too, and concluded that the fresh ginger was sort of lost in translation. Plus, peeling and mincing fresh ginger is no walk in the park. But if you want to try it sometime, add a tablespoon and a half of minced fresh ginger to the recipe. One other caveat: these gingersnaps don’t exactly “snap,” because they’re tender and chewy. Just let me know if you think they’re the best you’ve ever eaten.
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses (you can substitute regular molasses)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
extra granulated sugar for rolling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix the shortening, sugar, egg and molasses together in a medium bowl until well-blended. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and stir until well blended. Add the chopped crystallized ginger and mix well. The mixture will be somewhat sticky and can be refrigerated for a little while, but it’s not necessary. Roll into balls using a dining teaspoon*. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.
*You can also make these into larger cookies, using a dining tablespoon as your measure. After you arrange the balls on the baking sheet, flatten them a little with your fingers so they’ll spread more easily when they bake. After you flatten them, sprinkle the tops with a little more sugar to replace the sugar that came off on your fingers, and then bake as usual. This recipe will yield about 18 oversized cookies.