The Ginger Snap Obsession

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Ginger Snaps

All the cookies

Ginger Snap Spices

“He cooked for Cathy, going through recipes used by his mother and his stepmother.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

When I met up with my friend and mentor, Andrea, she brought cookies! We had lost track of each other, it had been 20 years since we last connected. She lives in Sacramento, I live in Salinas. We decided to meet at the half way point, in Fremont. We had a lunch of Thai crepes stuffed with curry and a long wonderful chat. So much has happened! When I started driving home I couldn’t stop thinking about the pink pastry box filled with homemade cookies. Andy had said she labeled each kind of cookie. What kind of cookies were in the box? When I couldn’t stand the cookie suspense any longer I convinced myself that I needed to take a break from driving and stopped at Starbucks and took a peek inside the pink box. I was just going to look in the box to see what was inside but as I picked up each sweet package the temptation was too great. I sat in my car and greedily sampled one of each. I began with the rugelach, then I found the ginger snaps. There were coconut macaroons, amaretti, mandelbrot and schnecken. I had to try all the cookies. I drove home in a blissful cookie coma.

Flour and Ginger Snap Spices

I began to obsess about ginger snaps, I hadn’t eaten one in forever. Andy’s were thin and crisp with just the right amount of spice. I tried to remember the ginger snaps my mom made. Hers had a soft center and crisp edges. She always had molasses and spices in the pantry, it was a baking kitchen. My brothers, the twins, would each grab a fist full and dunk them in a cold glass of milk. Dunking was never something I would do. But devouring homemade cookies has always been a pleasure. I looked at ginger snap recipes and compared the ingredients. Always ginger and cinnamon, what about cloves? I obsessed about which recipe to try. I wanted the ginger snaps of my childhood.

Essentials

My ginger snap research took me to the Williams and Sonoma Cookie book. I liked how the cookies have domed crackly tops. Those tops are dipped in coarse sugar crystals that sparkle and fancy up the humble ginger snap. But the best thing about this recipe is the addition of crystallized ginger. Or maybe the best thing is how the snaps have crunchy edges, with a soft middle. Or even better, is that the cookies age well. I actually like these snaps best when they are completely cooled, rather than just out of the oven. Even though this is not my mother’s ginger snap it’s a cookie to I’d be proud to share with old friends.

Making Ginger Snaps

Every bite of ginger snap is infused with the seductive flavor of browned butter, the excitement of crystallized ginger and classic snap spices making these cookies irresistible. I omitted the extra, unnecessary steps in the original recipe and made this an easy one bowl recipe, no mixer required. I also swapped the oil for browned butter and used roasted ginger and cinnamon to amp up the snap flavor. My motto, if I’m going to indulge in sweets, they are required to be spectacular. Crystallized ginger can be expensive, I find the best price in the bulk bins at the grocery store. For ease of mincing the crystallized ginger sprinkle a little sugar on the cutting surface.

Ginger Snaps
1C/227 gr unsalted butter
1C/220 gr light brown sugar
1/3C/105 gr dark molasses
1 egg
2-1/2C/390 gr all-purpose flour
1-1/2t roasted, ground ginger or ginger
1/2t roasted, ground cinnamon or cinnamon
1/4t ground cloves
1t baking soda
1/2t fine grain sea salt
3/4C/100 gr chopped crystallized ginger
1/2C coarse sugar crystals or regular sugar

Ginger Snaps

  1. Prepare the browned butter by melting the butter in a saucepan or skillet with a light colored or shiny interior on medium heat. At first the butter may sputter for a bit as the milk solids cook. Gently swirl the pan until the milk solids are a warm toasty brown at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Since different types and brands of butter contain different amounts of water they will have different volumes after browning, for best results measure the butter after browning.
  2. In a large bowl measure 3/4C+1T or 185 grams of the cooled butter, use the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reserve any leftover over butter for another use. Add the brown sugar, molasses and egg, use a whisk to combine. Mix until it comes together and becomes glossy. Remove the whisk from the bowl and over the top of the bowl sift or shake through a sieve the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix together just until combined and all the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the crystallized ginger, distributing evenly throughout the dough.
  3. Heat the oven to 325°. Line a sheet pan with parchment.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon, or small cup) to measure uniform sized cookies. For really uniform sized cookies, weigh the dough for each cookie. Slightly flatten the cookies and dip the tops in the coarse sugar. Place them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan and bake for 16-18 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. The cookies are done when the tops have set and become crackled. For crisper cookies, bake another minute or two. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Ginger Snaps

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26 Responses to The Ginger Snap Obsession

  1. Rich, decadent, and so full of flavor!!! Yes, obsession is their name.

  2. Carol Sacks says:

    YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION! These are gorgeous, Deb. Sweet post, too:)

  3. Cristina says:

    Cookies are my favorite for in sweet treats. I absolutely love them…they’re a cross between cake & candy. Enjoyed how you described your suspense of having to know what was in the box of cookie assortment. The texture looks fantastic on these ginger snaps. I have that cookie book…will need to look it up! A must try and pinning! 😉

  4. Oh Deb, a pink box filled with home baked cookies! I doubt I would have made it out of her driveway. My gingersnap cookie recipe is of the very thin and chewy type. Your puffier, sugar coated version looks like a whole new experience I must try.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Mary! There are so many ginger snap recipes, a Google search is overwhelming! The snaps seem to be either the flat and crisp or like the puffy recipe I fell in love with. Either way it’s a great, classic cookie.

  5. mjskit says:

    You really thought you would be able to just “look” at the cookies? 🙂 What a great gift from an old friend. Sounds like a great afternoon. Your ginger snaps are the real thing. I love these snaps but you just can’t buy good ones. Can’t wait to give yours a try.

    • Deb says:

      LOL, I wanted to savor the cookies when I returned home, but I just couldn’t wait any longer! Thank you for commenting MJ!

  6. You can’t beat brown butter in baking! Love the changes you made to the recipe Deb! And crystallized ginger is such a great ingredient. You made me crave gingersnaps now! And I agree, if I take the time to indulge it is with a great recipe.

  7. Deb, you’re right there are SO many Ginger Snap recipes, but I think the key is simplicity and you’ve really nailed it. These look delicious!

  8. Deb, Ginger Snaps are one of my favorite cookies and your recipe looks fantastic. I love the brown butter addition and the roasted ginger and cinnamon . What a wonderful afternoon with a sweet ending. Have a lovely weekend.

  9. Andrea says:

    Hi Deb,

    I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist the goodies in the pink box! I am glad you enjoyed tasting all the different cookies, and I am honored it started your search for the perfect ginger snap. This recipe looks so good and even more gingery than mine. I will hunt down some crystallized ginger and looking forward to trying the browned butter adaptation. I am looking forward to treating some of my friends to your recipes – maybe at the next Mahj game.

    It was wonderful to catch up and hear about your family. Felt like old times on our rides to and from the lunchtime lap swim. Wishing you a fabulous weekend and a Happy Mother’s Day.

    Fondly,
    Andy

    • Deb says:

      I had a wonderful visit too! Where does the time go? The cookies were fabulous and the best gift. We will have to get together again and plan a cookie fest!

  10. What perfect looking ginger snaps, I love the sparkling sugar tops!

  11. A ginger snap is such a simple cookie but with such lovely complex flavors…these sound delicious.

  12. i. love. gingersnaps. And i feel like most people only think about them in the fall and winter (aka Pumpkin Spice Season) because the gingery pumpkin things remind them of gingersnaps, but truly, they should be a year-round cookie, just like the chocolate chip. Yours sound absolutely lovely; love a good gingersnap recipe to try!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Shannon! I got so caught up in the nostalgia, the memories, of spending time with an old friend and thoughts of the cookies of my childhood that the time of year to make ginger snaps was now!

  13. Ginger and molasses make me so happy. I have some tea here just begging to go with a plate of these cookies! They look great.

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