Ginger Spice Snaps

These chock-full-of-ginger cookies are one of my family’s favorite wintertime treats. When I was a little girl, we always had store-bought ginger snaps at home. At the time I thought they were good, but not after tasting these. Loaded with ginger and just the right amount of molasses, the flavor is truly alive. Their ultimate texture, however, depends on the baking time.

When baked for only ten minutes, the cookie will be chewy (my husband and children adore them this way) and when baked for twelve minutes, they will become very crisp and will yield an audible “snap” when broken (my own preference). So, I always mix up the baking times to make everyone happy. In addition to baking time, the type of cookie sheet will also influence texture. The newer “cushioned” sheets bake a little slower than the thin old-fashioned ones and are preferable for these cookies. But if you only have the thin sheets, simply shorten the baking time to reach the desired look and texture. You can also invert a regular baking sheet, with one-inch sides, and bake the cookie batter on the inverted bottom. That way, you’ll be creating an insulating air pocket underneath the batter, helping the cookies to bake more gently and avoid scorching on the bottom.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 extra-large egg

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Learn to Cook for more information.

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Shopping List

Dairy & Eggs
1 extra-large egg
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Dry Goods
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

Spices & Baking
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves

To set up

Position both oven racks to the upper and lower levels and preheat the oven to 375o F. Line 2 to 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper; do not grease the paper.

To prepare the cookie batter

In a medium-sized mixing bowl,whisk together the flour, coffee, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt and cloves. Sift this mixture into another bowl. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, cream the brown and white sugars with the softened butter, molasses and vanilla. When well combined, add the egg. Once the mixture is smooth, set electric mixer to lowest setting, if using, and then add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing well.

To shape and bake

Place generous tablespoonfuls of the batter (leveled cookie-scoopfuls) or level cookie scoops of the batter on the prepared cookie sheets. For best results, place mounds in 3 rows of 3, without crowding. Place two of the sheets into the preheated oven using the upper and lower third shelf positions. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, switching the position of the sheets after half the baking time. While in the oven, these cookies will first plump as they spread. They will then (usually) deflate and become flat, especially if left in the oven for the longer baking time, which will produce a crisper cookie. When baking for only 10 minutes (for a chewy cookie), they might come out slightly puffed. If so, rap the sheet on the wire rack, once or twice, to help the cookies to deflate. Bake remaining sheets of cookies.

To cool and serve

After baking, place the sheets on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, using a thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool before storing in an airtight tin.

Ginger Snap Ice Cream Sandwiches

These cookies make fabulous ice cream sandwiches! Freeze baked and cooled cookies for an hour or so before spreading the flat side of 1 cookie with a layer of slightly softened vanilla ice cream. Top with another cookie (flat side down). Squish a little, wrap in pliable plastic wrap, slip sandwiches into individual waxed-paper bags and freeze until firm.

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