When I was a kid, my favorite cookies were my Mother's gingersnaps – mahogany-colored with a good spanking of spice, they took some effort to bite into, they were so crisp. Her recipe came from a woman named Phyllis Dawes, the mother of a friend who was a good half-generation older than she. That would date the recipe to somewhere before the turn of the last century. Googling around, though, I find that the recipe is nearly identical to almost every gingersnap recipe out there, except for one critical difference: the quantity of flour. While the other ingredients are exactly the same, Phyllis's recipe calls for 3 cups of flour compared to only
2 cups in the other recipes. This, I believe, accounts for the dense crunch I so love. That, and giving them a proper baking.
I've always assumed the ‘snap’ in their name referred to a requisite crunch – the British call them ‘gingernuts’, after all. Somewhere in my research, I came across the suggestion that the ‘snap’ had to do with how easy they are to make. That may be so – they're not terribly challenging – but a gingersnap that doesn't bite back isn't a gingersnap, it's just a ginger cookie. And you can keep it. I'm not a fan of soft cookies, especially since they're often rendered so by malicious underbaking.
A few weeks ago I was off on a tear with a friend, and we stopped to grab a couple of sandwiches to fuel our adventure. The little café had a jar full of Double Ginger Cookies, so we snapped up a few of those, too. Truth in advertising – they were soft and chewy, but redeemed by the inclusion of diced candied ginger. And I thought that might be a happy addition to Phyllis Dawes's gingersnaps (yes, of course I still have the recipe).• • • • • • •
3 cups / 390g AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (or 1 full tsp if using fluffy kosher salt)
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup / 150g very finely diced candied ginger
3/4 cup / 170g softened unsalted butter
1 cup / 200g granulated sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
1 large egg
1/4 cup / 85g unsulphured molasses
Extra sugar (about a cup) for rolling the shaped cookies in before baking.
Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silicone mats if you use them). NOTE: You can also grease your cookie sheets, but lining them works just as well, if not better, and makes cleanup so much easier.
Combine all the dry ingredients (except for the sugar) in a bowl and blend well with a large whisk. Mix in the diced ginger.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and molasses until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients and blend well without overmixing.
Bake the cookies until nicely browned (12 – 15 minutes), rotating the pans back-to-front and top-to-bottom halfway through.
Use a spatula to remove the cookies to cooling racks, and cool completely before storing.
This gave me a good chuckle: the bag of candied ginger I used had a recipe on the back...for ‘Soft Gingersnaps’. Pshaw.