Thursday, January 27, 2011

Old Fashion Gingersnaps

Despite all the glories of the internet and indexes upon indexes of recipes, I find some of the best recipes are those tried and true ones that have-literally in some cases-been to war and back.
I am a collector of vintage cookbooks. Quirky, practical, delightful, these windows into the past are treasured little gems of mine. I might find them in second hand shops, garage sales, rummage sales, boxes from elderly neighbors or as gifts from Mr. Devlin.

So, when I get the yin for something classic, I look in an old book first. I'm rarely disappointed.

I grew up on store bought gingersnaps. Don't gasp. My parents raised 4 kids on a few dimes and a serious work ethic so if Mum didn't have time to bake Dad's favorite cookie, it's because she was busy plucking a chicken while nursing a baby and sewing a dress. Dad likes those cookies that are really crunchy and come in a brown bag--no fuss, no frills. Just dunk them in  some coffee. They also make a fine crust for a pumpkin cheesecake or crumbled on some vanilla ice cream with some fresh peaches. Simple, classic.

I was in search of that gingery goodness this week. I found about 4 recipes that probably would have worked; the majority of them seemed a bit too soft. I wanted something to dunk. In the end, I adapted a recipe from a 1950's cook book for farm wives that I found in my hometown in a second hand shop for $3. A steal considering how much I use this book.

I will say, before I give instructions, that as these cookies cool, they harden. If you wanted an even crispier texture (like the store bought ones) I suggest you flatten them farther and lower the temp of the oven to 350.

As is, preheat the oven to 375 and prepare some cookie sheets. You'll also need a small bowl of sugar or sanding sugar to roll the cookies in.

always scrape the bowl

In a mixing bowl,  blend these ingredients using the standard creaming method:

1/2 cup butter or shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg

Be sure to scrape down the bowl so the molasses gets fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients of
2 1/2 cups AP flour and 1/4 tsp salt  (yeah, that's all that goes into that bowl, I'm sure)

....because, using two small cups or bowls, you are going to have a little fun with science.
In one cup or bowl, mix

a tale of two teacups
a little spicy volcano
1 Tbs hot water
1 tsp white vinegar

In the second cup or bowl, blend together
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

When the butter mixture is ready to go, pour the vinegar/water into the spice mix and stir really quickly while it foams then dump all of it into the molasses mixture. Only blend briefly before adding in all the flour mixture and beating until fully mixed.

The dough is firm and dense, not sticky so it rolls well into a ball. The original recipe called for dropping the dough by teaspoons but I think it works better to roll in the sugar as a ball and flatten them with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a cup.

The won't spread far, either so you can about 15 on a sheet. Done properly, you should get 48 cookies exactly.

Bake 8-10 minutes before removing to cool on a rack. As the cookies cool, they will become harder. Store in an airtight container for a week.


Renee said...

OMG, that's so awesome! I've never eaten a homemade GS! they look amazing, gonna have to go home and make some.

Mother B said...

From that picture...I could almost smell these babies!!

Anonymous said...

MMM....these remind me of a recipe from years ago that my mom used to make. maybe this snow day i can try these.