The very best recipes come from friends and relations. This one is no exception. Deborah, my New York sister-in-law and dessert-maker extraordinaire, sent me this irresistible gingersnap recipe a few years ago. She was given it by her friend, Helen Freytag, who once lived in Hong Kong, and she had received it from…well, who knows? A chain of deliciousness—as Nigella might say—stretching across the country and perhaps even the world.
Made with freshly grated gingerroot and sweetened with molasses, these aromatic cookies are fragile and crisp—so insubstantial that it’s easy to inhale half a dozen or so without even thinking about it. Perfect to leave by the fireside for Santa, perhaps with a glass of bubbly to tickle his nose. After all, isn’t that a ticket to Paris tucked in your stocking?
Merry Christmas to all—and to all, a spicy 2007.
Helen Freytag’s Gingersnaps
Makes 9 to 10 dozen
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
7 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons freshly grated gingerroot
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking soda
Extra sugar, as needed
1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, then the molasses and then the grated ginger, beating well after each addition.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together, with the exception of the extra sugar, and slowly add to the batter, mixing very well. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, form the dough into small balls, about 3/4-inch in diameter and roll in granulated sugar. Place the balls on a cookie sheet, leaving 2 to 3 inches between them. (If you don’t, the cookies will run together.) Flatten each ball with the bottom of a small glass dipped in sugar.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned. Remove and let cool slightly before lifting them from the baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough.
5. The gingersnaps will keep in a covered tin for about 10 days–as long as you hide the tin from midnight pantry prowlers.