Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ginger Snaps

After making gingerbread houses and then gingerbread cake, it seemed only right to bake one of my favorite cookies: Ginger Snaps.

I found this recipe many years ago in my Joy of Cooking. My college roommate and friend, Lani King, gave that cookbook to me for my birthday in 1974. That cookbook has been one of a handful that I have kept at hand through the years. 15 years ago my family gave me the updated edition of Joy of Cooking. But I just never felt comfortable with it. For interest's sake, I pulled it out to see if it had my beloved ginger snap recipe in it. It was definitely based on the recipe from the earlier edition, but the differences were significant: the addition of baking powder, less baking soda, more ginger, more cinnamon, the addition of salt, double the amount of butter, less sugar, lemon juice in place of vinegar, and the addition of lemon or orange zest. What remained the same: flour, cloves, eggs, and molasses. I'll give it a try sometime, but for the moment, I'm going with my tried and true recipe.

I made the dough three days ago and baked some of the cookies then. So today I pulled the rest of the dough out of the refrigerator.

I used a spoon to dig out chunks of dough, which I rolled into balls. I set the balls onto a baking sheet. I used parchment paper to prevent sticking.

I baked them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven, they are a little puffy and very soft. You will see signs of the characteristic crinkling. Wait a couple of minutes for them to firm up before transferring them to cooling racks.

When they are cool, they are crinkly, and firm but chewy.

Several years ago, before I discovered white wheat, I tried making these using red whole wheat flour. I didn't like the flavor the flour added, so I continued to make them using all-purpose flour. Having recently used flour milled from soft white wheat successfully in other cookie, brownie, and cake recipes, I used some in making these cookies this time. Because I was giving away most of the cookies, I conservatively only replaced 1/4th of the all-purpose flour with the whole wheat flour. They are delicious, and, if anything, I think the texture is improved.

By the way, I don't pretend to think that a little whole wheat flour suddenly makes cookies nutritious. Cookies, by their nature, should always be eaten sparingly. However, any time I can replace refined grains with whole grains, I consider it a benefit.

Ginger Snaps

Cream together:
¾ C butter
2 C sugar

Stir in:
2 eggs
½ C molasses
2 tsp. vinegar

Stir together and add:
3¾ C all-purpose flour (or replace at least 1 C with soft white whole-wheat flour)
1½ tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. cloves

Mix ingredients until well-blended. Form dough into small balls. Bake at 350°F on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased), for about 10-15 minutes. Let cookies set for a couple of minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Yields about 7 dozen cookies.

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