For me, the very best holiday cookie is a gingersnap—a soft and chewy gingerbread cookie with a crackly sugar top.
It’s a hard one to find.
Commercial gingersnaps are crisp, and when you look for gingerbread recipes, they all seem to be for roll-and-cut cookies.
But last Christmas I was at my Aunt Julie’s house and she served just the cookie I’d been dreaming of, only she called it a molasses cookie (here is the thing about gingerbread—it’s just a dough made with molasses and ginger).
So I asked Aunt Julie if she would share her recipe. She said YES, and thus begun my inspiration for this 20-minute cookie exchange challenge.
The original recipe calls for chilling the dough for one hour, but I don’t have that kind of time, so I started with all of my ingredients cold.
This makes mixing by hand very difficult, so to speed up the process, I recommend using an electric mixer of some sort.
I love how spicy the original recipe is, but I wanted to pull in just a bit more flavor.
So I added cardamom. It’s a warm, sweet spice with hints of citrus.
Because of the molasses and spices, the dough will be quite dark. So the traditional visual cookie cue of a golden brown color won’t help us much to know when we’re done baking.
The dough is pretty stiff too, but don’t worry, it bakes up tender and chewy. The moisture from the molasses, butter, and egg do the trick nicely.
I always use a portion scoop to bake cookies. It saves time in the rolling process and also makes uniform cookies that bake up perfectly.
The baking visual for these cookies is a crackly top, and rolling them in granulated sugar makes this possible.
I also think a coarser sugar would work nicely. Next time I might try sanding sugar or raw sugar.
These cookies spread a bit, so give them some room; the warmer the dough, the more they will spread.
The original recipe says to place them two inches apart, which means you can only fit eight per cookie sheet, which means you have to bake the recipe in three batches, which almost doubles the recipe time!
Sincerely, these cookies came out of the oven looking like they were ready to be on a magazine cover! I can’t stand how simple but elegant they look!
However, I see now that I could have placed them a bit closer together and baked them in two batches of 12.
Darrick and Pearl both thought they smelled amazing.
And Darrick loved the flavor. He said it reminded him of Chai.
They’re perfect for a cookie exchange or to set out for Santa, plus they taste great with milk!
I also had a couple with hot apple cider and it was HEAVENLY!
Seriously, this is the perfect spicy gingersnap recipe!
If you bake them 12 cookies to a sheet, you will be finished baking two dozen cookies start-to-finish in 20 minutes—which is where I feel like I cheated!
Whenever I’ve done a cookie exchange, I’ve always had to make eight to 12 dozen cookies (one dozen for each of the people participating), which took upwards of two hours!
Sooooo I’ll leave it to you to answer, Did I pass this challenge?!
makes: 24 cookies
- 1 cup white sugar, plus more for rolling
- ¾ cups butter, cold
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream one cup of the sugar and the butter until combined. Add the egg and mix until smooth, then stir in the molasses.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, cardamom, and salt. Then slowly add this flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together; it will be a stiff dough.
- Portion the dough into 1 ounce tablespoon/walnut-sized balls, then roll each one in the remaining sugar. Place the balls 1½ inches apart on a cookie sheet; you should be able to fit 12 on each cookie sheet.
- Bake until the cookies spread and the sugary top cracks—about 11 to 13 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.