Thursday, May 21

How to Put Snap Into Gingersnap Cookies

gingersnaps leaning cookie

Ginger bread men are perfect for Christmas time, but gingersnaps are perfect any time.

Our love for gingersnaps runs deep: they evolved from the traditional German Christmas ginger bread cookie, Lebkuchen, which were likely invented by Medieval German monks as early as the thirteenth century.

While ginger bread men get to play dress up every winter, gingersnaps remain plain Janes year-round. Yet it's their unassuming nature that makes them so appealing. Gingersnaps are small, round, spicy cookies made from ginger and molasses. Unlike ginger bread cookies, gingersnaps are crisper and firmer, making them ideal for dunking.

Like most people, I always thought the "snap" referred to the cookie's characteristic crunch; however, according to John Mariani of The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, "snap" probably derives from the German or Middle Dutch, snappen, which means "to seize quickly." In relation to cookies, it's an informal way of saying they're easy or "a snap to make."

gingersnaps

Still, the best gingersnaps are snappy on many levels. So how exactly do you put the "snap" in a gingersnap? I have tried about half a dozen different gingersnap cookie recipes, and the snappiest ones are from Martha. Here's what's so good about her gingersnap cookies recipe: She uses real ginger, which infuses the cookies with a clean, fresh zinginess, ground cloves, which offer enticing aroma and spiciness, and ground black pepper, which adds a touch of heat. I baked the cookies a little longer for added crispness and rolled them in Turbinado sugar for extra crunch.

Don't wait a long seven months for Christmas cookie season to get your ginger cookie fix. Gingersnaps are low-maintenance -- no cut outs, no frosting, no raisin buttons, just old-fashioned gingery goodness.


Gingersnaps (slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
(Martha says the recipe makes about 60 cookies, but mine made about 30.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 1/2 tablespoon finely grated, peeled ginger (one 3-inch piece) (I used 2 tablespoons)
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used Turnibado sugar)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and salt; set aside.

Martha uses a stand mixer, but I used a hand mixer for this part: In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, molasses, and ginger on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until smooth and combined. Add flour mixture, and beat on low until just combined. Transfer dough to a bowl and wrap in plastic; refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in the center and lower third. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place granulated sugar in a shallow bowl; roll balls in sugar until completely coated, and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets (as cookies spread).

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are deep golden all over and centers are firm, 15-18 minutes (I baked mine for about 20 minutes so they would be crisper). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Note: Tin containers will keep the cookies crisper.


You might also like:

Comforting Banana, Oatmeal, and Raisin Cookies





Mango Bread





Tootsie Roll Fudge (made with ginger snaps)




Here's more gingery goodness:
Jamie's Ultimate Gingerbread at Cherrapeno
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies at No Special Effects
Brown Butter Gingersnaps at Nook and Pantry


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42 comments:

Kristen said...

Oh yum! I just got some rhubarb and strawberries from the farmers' market. I'm thinking vanilla ice cream with strawberry-rhubarb sauce and gingersnaps for dinner tonight! Thanks for the fabulous idea.

Lisa said...

These look just perfect and using fresh ginger is a great idea. I must make these for my sweetie as he adores gingerbread.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

We learn something new every day. Interesting bit about both the history of the cookie and the meaning of the name.

Karen said...

It wasn't until I 'grew up' that I found a love for gingersnaps. My Mom loved them and when I was a kid I guess I thought of them as an 'old lady cookie' Ha! I think of her whenever I see them.

Cakespy said...

YES! I love gingersnaps and found this very informative. They are definitely too good to only be served at Christmas!

Snooky doodle said...

these look so so good !

Lori said...

I just lvoe gingersnaps. We have an addiction to them as well. My Father has bought them the whole time I was growing up. These look really tastey.

Lynda said...

These look so good! I haven't had Ginger Snaps in a while and the addition of fresh ginger would really make these wonderful!

duodishes said...

Love them however they come, although homemade is the best. The sugar dusting tops it all off!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

kristen-Can I come over? ;)

lisa-That's always a good reason to bake cookies.

sdoc-Glad you liked it!

karen-I kind of did too. :)

cakespy-Seriously. They should be eaten year-round.

snooky-Thanks!

lori-Now that's a great dad. :)

lynda-The fresh ginger is exceptional.

Deborah said...

This is funny because I was just looking through a cookie cookbook today and the gingersnaps were really standing out to me!

Annie said...

Sounds like a winner to me. And thanks for the history, it's always interesting to learn the origin of different foods :)

Bellini Valli said...

I love to learn about the historical aspects of cooking and baking Susan....excellent "snaps" as well:D

Maryann said...

I've never tried them with fresh ginger. Never thought to. And why not? I bet they're great! And if anyone knows cookies, it's you! Nice photos too.
Big hug, Susan-xox

Zita said...

I love ginger snaps too, buth gingersnaps with fresh ginger it's even better, thank's fo sharing a healthy cookies perfect to snap snacking:)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

"Snap" probably also stands for "snapping up and eating." I'll bet yours were gone in a second!

Elyse said...

I always assumed "snap" was about the crunch, too! How funny. Well, I'm all about a cookie that can be made in a "snap." These gingersnaps look amazing! I can't wait to try out your recipe.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

deborah-Great minds? :)

annie-It was fun to learn myself.

val-I'm so glad you liked it.

maryann-The fresh ginger really makes the flavor explode! Bug hugs to you too.

Maria said...

I'm a fan of quick, no frills cookies and these sound great. The fresh ginger must be an amazing addition here. I can imagine the flavor and scent!

Manggy said...

I had prepackaged gingersnaps from here once-- they weren't just crunchy, they were nearly diamond-hard! But I still couldn't stop eating them :) These look MUCH better!

Dragon said...

I always learn something when I come here. :)

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

Sounds like a snap! Thanks! I love cookies, any kind will do :-)

Half Baked said...

I love gingersnaps! these look delicious. I love the Turnibado sugar on top for that little extra crunch!

Ivy said...

Yum, I love ginger cookies.

Abby said...

Martha always makes things small, thus the 60 cookies. She'd probably call them petite.

I don't like gingerbread, but I love gingersnaps. With hot coffee!

Nicisme said...

I love most things ginger - these look wonderful!

chefectomy said...

I luuuvv ginger cookies. These are going to the baker in the house to replicate!

--Marc

♥Rosie♥ said...

Lovely ginger snap cookies. These were my dads favourite cookie.

Soma said...

This is a recipe to treasure! I do not like cookies except for the ginger ones. Just baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies & I added ginger there too! Just love the snaps.

Aparna said...

I just love ger flavoured cookies, unfortunately the other two in my family don't. :(
But I think I should make them for myself. I desrve them.

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Deborah Dowd said...

I am addicted to ginger snaps and milk in the fall (I admit it, I'm a dunker) Are these crispy?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

deborah-The sugar coating adds crunch but the center is more chewy than crispy.

Agent Tiki said...

Have you ever had Gingersnap cookies with Cayenne? I just made them and they are pretty good, but I'll be making these in a few minutes. I've picked these two for the Gingersnap Smackdown my family is having.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

agenttiki-A gingersnap smackdown? Cool! Let me know how it turns out!

Agent Tiki said...

I'd say these won. I only made a dozen of these and my son finished them off. I felt they lacked the kick the cayenne pepper ones so I just switched out the pepper and added cayenne which we loved. This is definitely a keeper for us.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

agent tiki-Woo-hoo! Thanks for the update. Let me know if you ever need a judge. ;)

brooke said...

Love the recipe! But found the cooking time way too long. I used a coarser ground dark brown sugar (organic), would that affect baking time? Thanks for posting!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

brooke-Brown sugar creates a softer, chewier cookie and does cause more spread than white sugar. I'm not exactly sure about the coarser grain though.

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