I’ve recently added a new goal to my life goals list: to become the Christmas Cookie Lady. To be more specific, I want to be known in the minds of Fred’s family as the Christmas Cookie Lady. In practical terms I will know I’ve achieved my goal when every one else in his family stops bothering to bring dessert at all to the family Christmas gathering because they know that I have dessert covered. Covered with cookies. In years past I’ve taken to this ambition rather passively – baking a few kinds of cookies to endear myself to his family. But this was our first Christmas as an engaged couple, which made me feel like it was really about time that I start establishing which role I want to play in his family, given that in everyone’s minds I’m now a permanent fixture at these celebrations. So I opted to go all out this year – baking Mexican Wedding Cookies, my famous giant chocolate chip cookies, and these gingersnaps in gloriously large quantities. Watching one grandpa stuff one cookie after another into his mouth with no sense of propriety was a good start, but when I heard Fred’s uncle politely pass on a slice of his wife’s famous meat pie with a cool “sorry, I think I had too many cookies,” I knew I was well on my way to meeting my newest life goal!
Classic Gingersnaps (adapted from David Lebovitz)
makes about 40 cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
11 Tbs butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg, room temperature
about a 1/2 cup large granulated sugar to coat cookies – I used Demerara Sugar and it was lovely
First, combine your dry ingredients well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (a hand mixer would work fine too), beat your butter until fluffy. Beat in your sugar, and continue beating until well combined with the butter. Stir in your vanilla, molasses and egg. Gradually add your dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together.
Divide your dough into two equal portions. Roll each on a lightly floured surface, into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and roll a bit more until completely even. Freeze logs until quite firm. At this point you can leave your dough in the freezer until you wish to bake your cookies (up to a few months even) – if it’s been frozen a while just refrigerate for a few hours to soften the logs up a bit before cutting and baking.
When you’re ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove one log of dough from the fridge or freezer and slice with a sharp knife into quarter inch slices. Coat the top of each slice in large granulated sugar, and place on your baking sheet (you can put them rather close together since they don’t expand too much when baking).
Bake for 12-14 minutes (a bit less if you like soft cookies, but I like mine with a good snap). Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.