‘Tis the season for sharing time-honored family recipes, and I have a bunch of those–my grandmother’s fruitcake, my mom’s snowball cookies, the obligatory Southern woman’s cheese straws. But this year I’ve decided I’m not going to bake as much. I’ve got so much else to do, and frankly, y’all, I’m tired. So I tried to think of the one thing I make that neither of my sisters can make just as well or better, the Christmas treat that is so much me and so good I can’t do without it. And I came up with this. It isn’t a family recipe; my mama never made a ginger snap in her life. It’s adapted from a recipe I found on another baker’s blog less than five years ago. But it has become the cookie everybody asks for, and it’s the one I want to eat.
So I hope y’all will make a batch of your own and have an amazing holiday!
Brown Butter Ginger Snaps
2 2/3 cups AP flour
2 1/3 teaspoons ground ginger (I’ve never used fresh or candied ginger in these, so I don’t know if it would work)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) of butter, browned and brought back to room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temp
¼ cup molasses (mild not blackstrap)
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Coarse decorating sugar
Several hours before baking:
Melt the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently and cooking until it turns light brown and smells slightly nutty. Watch it; this takes forever, but when it starts happening, it happens FAST. Transfer to a small bowl and bring it back to room temp in the fridge.
About 90 minutes before baking:
Whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
Add butter and sugars to body of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. (I have done this with a hand mixer, and it was fine, but a stand mixer makes life much easier.) Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating well and scraping sides as needed. Add molasses, orange zest and vanilla, beat until combined. Slowly add flour mixture in increments, beating just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour. (Or overnight – I’ve left this as long as two days, and it was fine.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough into 1” balls, roll the balls in coarse sugar, space them on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Smush them with the flat bottom of a whiskey glass. Sprinkle on more sugar if you think it needs it. Bake 9-10 minutes until puffed and lightly golden. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire rack. Makes about four dozen. Fair warning: these cookies are more chewy than ‘snappy,’ which I like. But if you want a more biscuit-like texture, add another 2/3 cup of flour. I have even used the stiffer dough to make gingerbread cutouts.