Well, it is only mid December, and I am horribly behind on everything I have to do. This time of year is always crazy. Between all the decorating, shopping, baking and general Christmas merriment to be spread, never mind the fact that half my family and a sizable group of my friends were born in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, including myself, this always tends to be a hectic time of year. However, it is also one of my absolute favorite times of year! I love everything to do with the lights and family traditions that accompany this darkest time of the year.
This year is especially hectic for me however, because I have, as many of you many have undoubtedly noticed, been behind on my ‘to do’ list since the beginning of November. This is due to the fact that as of October 31st I started a new job that is quite different from anything I have ever done before, and has therefore been quite a change for me. I am still hope to get to all the delicious blog posts that I have on back log from the past month and a half, but I wanted to be sure and get my post up for the end of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011.
It was quite exciting to open the boxes I received in the mail. The first one actually took me by surprise, because I had completely forgotten that I would be receiving them in the mail. Nate and I both looked at each other, perplexed and asked , “what did you order from New Jersey?” I received delicious rugelach cookies from Rona and Alyssa at Two Minds Cook Alike, some yummy apple pecan oatmeal cookies from Stephanie and Mel at La Pura Vida and, my favorite, raspberry ribbons from Elyse at The Cultural Dish (Elyse gave me a few extra which I was thrilled about, yum!). Meanwhile, I dispatched three boxes of my Grandmother’s Gingersnap cookies, a family favorite, to Katherine at Precent Blog, Lily at Small Kitchen College, and Fred at Grown Away: Adventures in Food.
My Grandmother’s gingersnaps have been one of my favorite treats for as long as I can remember. She was the type of wife/mother/grandmother who tried to make sure that the cookie jar on her kitchen counter was always full of delicious homemade cookies for anyone passing through to enjoy. For me it was always a toss up to decide whether her Gingersnaps or her Mincemeat cookies were my favorite all-around cookie. Now, this all-around status, of course, does not include her Christmas cutter cookies, which are also excellent for any occasion, but which I tend to only make surrounding holidays. It is so difficult to really have a favorite when you are presented with so many delicious options…
These Gingersnaps have just the right crispy snap to them, while still being slightly chewy in the center if they are cooked correctly. If you prefer your Gingersnaps to be as crisp as can be, you can just cook these slightly longer to achieve the perfect crispiness. However, the best part about these cookies is their depth of flavor. They pack an explosive punch of spices, but are also rich in molassesy sweetness.
The other great thing about this recipe is that it makes over one hundred cookies! (I only made one batch for the cookie swap and still had plenty left to distribute to various family members) They are quite thin, so storing the whole batch is not a problem. However, I find that we can never get through a whole batch before they start to get old unless we have a large number of people visiting or I give them away. As a result, I usually only cook half the recipe at any given time. This is in my opinion one of the best things about the recipe. I always make the full recipe of dough, because it is so easy to whip up in one batch, but before I start cooking, I scoop half the dough into a bag and pop it into the freezer to save for later. This means that I almost always have cookie dough in the freezer, so that I can have fresh cookies ready at a moments notice. The best part is, that the dough only needs to thaw for about ten minutes before it can start being cooked.
There are two changes that I have made to my Grandmother’s original recipe. I no longer use margarine as it calls for, I use plain old butter instead. Margarine tends to be higher in trans fat than butter and the chemical processing used to produce margarine turns me off. Butter is much more natural and wholesome than margarine and also contains lots of Vitamins E, K and D. Of course, the vegetable oil used in this recipe is not far removed from margarine, but the substitution for this is less clear to me. The one other change that I have made to my Grandmother’s recipe is substituting two cups of whole wheat flour for two of the all purpose flour that she used. This way there is half whole wheat and half all purpose, adding a little more whole grain to the recipe. In my opinion, neither of these substitutions detracts from the cookies in any way.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and 2 cups sugar.
- Add oil, molasses and eggs, and mix until combined.
- Sift dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.
- Add dry ingredients to wet, one cup at a time, mixing to combine after each addition.*
- Drop batter in walnut size balls onto an ungreassed cookie sheet.
- Place 3/4 cups sugar on a small plate, rub the flat bottom of a glass in the sugar and then use it to squish down a ball of cookie dough into a round disk, re-sugar the bottom of the glass and repeat.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until medium brown and slightly puffed in the center.
- Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on the sheet before moving them to the cooling rack.
*If you wish to freeze part of the dough, do so after all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Makes about 9 dozen cookies.