Thursday, September 23, 2010

Part 1 0f 2 & Chez Panisse Gingersnap Cookies

*This is part one of a two-part post. The second of which can be opened in a separate page HERE.

Initially I considered graham crackers, which is what I've always used for the crust of the dessert I was making. In honor of fall, I thought I would try something that spoke to the flavor and tradition of the season, and make a gingersnap-cookie crust instead. But first, I needed gingersnaps. I found one recipe, on David Lebovitz' website, that separated itself from all the rest and intrigued me with its inclusion of ground black pepper. So, off to bake I went. From the moment I opened the jar of molasses, the main ingredient, I was...well, nervous. I recoiled as the smell reached out from the jar and smacked me in the face. I haven't worked with molasses in over ten years and had forgotten how much I don't like the smell of it.
I've had gingersnaps before. I knew I liked the flavor, but the smell of molasses threw me a bit. Until I placed the cookies in the oven to bake, I was convinced I made a mistake in not sticking with the graham cracker crust I was used to. Five minutes in, something happened. Something magical. The aroma of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg married and settled in, perfumed the air, transforming my kitchen into something that, if I closed my eyes, I would have mistaken for a gingerbread house. I felt, at once, warmth and welcomed home. What I pulled out of the oven was delicious, full-bodied, with an ever-so-slight surprise kick of pepper delightfully ending each bite.

"Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;
but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?"
--Hal Borland

Ginger Snaps
Makes 40-50 cookies

Recipe couresty and Adapted from The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution (Clarkson Potter) by Alice Waters. Via David Lebovitz

1/4-1/2 teaspoon Cardamom, Allspice or Cloves could also be added.


2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
11 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar (I mixed white and brown)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup mild-flavored molasses* (sometimes called ‘light’ molasses)
1 large egg, at room temperature
Coarse or Granulated Sugar for topping, Optional


1. In medium bowl, stir dry ingredients together with fork.
2. In separate large bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add in sugar and mix until silky in appearance. Scrape down side of bowl and mix until combined.
3. Add in egg, molasses and vanilla. Mix to combine.
4. Spoon in dry ingredients while mixing until thoroughly combined.
5. Half the dough into two portions equal in size. Lightly flour surface and separately roll each into logs, approximately 2-inches around. Pat in ends to even out.
6. Separately wrap each log of dough in plastic and refrigerate or freeze until firm to touch.

When ready to Bake:

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using parchment paper or silicone liner, line two large cookie sheets.
9. Add coarse or granulated sugar to bowl (if using sugar). Using sharp knife, slice 1/4 inch dough for each cookie. Press one side of each cookie into sugar firmly. Place sugar-dipped cookies onto lined cookie sheets, two-inches apart, sugar-side facing up.
10. Add pans to oven and bake 10-14 minutes, or deep-golden in color. Turn pans halfway through so cookies are evenly baked.
11. Allow cookies to cool for two minutes before transferring to cooling rack with spatula.

Wrapped well, dough can be refrigerated for as long as five days, or frozen for three months. Store cookies in air-tight container.


  1. I applaud you for making your own cookies for the crust. I bet your kitchen smelled fantastic.

  2. I love gingersnaps! The warm spices and the rich, intoxicating smell - I bet it smelled like the holidays! Cannot wait to see what you bake up.

  3. I love the way the house smells when I bake gingerbread! These cookies sound yummy. :)

  4. Ginger snaps are perfect for fall. I like to crush ginger snaps to make a crust for my pumpkin cheesecakes!

  5. wow, I've never tried making these before - nice work!

  6. My favorite, Ree!!! I wish I had smell-o-vision...cuz gingersnaps cooking are probably one of my favorite, most comforting, autumn-y smells ever. I love that quote, too... looking forward to part 2 =)

  7. We usually make ginger snap cookies for the holidays but heck, now I want to make them this weekend!! So good!

  8. Molasses is quite potent isn't it! I think the gound pepper is an intruiging ingredient. These look great, I can't wait for P.2!

  9. I love ginger snap cookies! I try to pick Delta airlines when I fly, so I can have the ginger cookies they pass out.

  10. Those ginger snaps sound awesome, looking forward to part 2!

  11. These are my husband's favorite cookie, I definitely need to try making them :)! They look delicious!

  12. I don't care for molasses either but I really love ginger snaps. I use them a lot in crusts and think they make a much better crust. But I have never made my own ginger snap cookies, nor have I even thought about it. Very cool, very cool! Nice work Ree!!


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