If you’re looking for something homemade this weekend but are ready to give elaborate cooking a rest, here’s a treat, Sadie’s Gingersnaps. The eponymous Sadie is the grandmother of our great friend and traveling companion, Bette Ann (BA) Harris. Several weeks ago BA arrived for dinner at our house with a plastic bag of these oversize ginger snaps. Score! There’s an embargo on our house for cookies, unless we make them ourselves. It ensures quality control and minimizes temptation. You can have a treat… as long as you make it yourself. We do, however, issue culinary visas to all friends bearing baked goods. After all, how often do friends show up at your door with homemade cookies? These were definitely worth the wait.
The cookies are easy, have a real ginger flavor, and go great at midnight with a glass of milk. They have also become the rocket fuel of choice (with a double espresso) for propelling me through the four o’clock slump. Enjoy. Ken
LEFTOVERS NOTE: Don’t know what to do with all that turkey? Try our Turkey Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Rice Stick Noodles. Come to think of it, turkey soup with giant gingersnaps for dessert doesn’t sound bad at all.
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter + additional for greasing parchment paper
- 1 cup white sugar + additional for rolling
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ¼ cup molasses (BA uses Grandma’s Original brand with a yellow label)
- 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger (not fresh)
- ½ heaping teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 level teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ cups unbleached all purpose flour (BA uses King Arthur)
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced or minced candied ginger (this is an optional addition that I made with BA’s permission)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. If your oven has a convection option, use it.
- In a standing mixer, cream the butter and the cup sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, then add molasses, spices, baking soda and salt. Beat well.
- Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Run the mixer on its lowest setting until the flour is just combined. You don’t want to develop the gluten too much.
- Transfer the dough to a small bowl, cover and chill about 10 – 20 minutes to make it easier to work with. You can refrigerate the dough for up to 36 hours, if necessary.
- Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper. You will make 5 – 6 sheets of cookies. I only have a few baking sheets, so I had to do them in batches.
- Cover the bottom of a shallow bowl with about ¼ inch of granulated sugar. Fill another bowl halfway with water for dipping your fingers.
- Roll dough into balls the size of a walnut (about a tablespoon of dough) and then roll each ball in the granulated sugar. Finish transforming all of the dough into sugared balls, ready to go on a plate or cutting board, before you start baking.
- Place 6 balls on a baking sheet at least 4 inches apart (they spread a lot). I found when I tried to fit 9 on a sheet, the cookies ran together. Dip your fingers in water and flatten the balls into disks about ¼-inch thick and about 2 inches in diameter – they’ll spread more when they bake. If you don’t want to use your fingers, you can flatten them using a glass.
- Sprinkle the raw cookies with candied ginger.
- “Bake until they are done – they should be dark.” (Those were Sadie’s instructions, which I love.) They take about 12 minutes, give or take a minute, depending on your oven.
- Let cool on the parchment sheet about 10 minutes before transferring to a rack.
‘Tis the seasons of gifts. Please take note of the beautiful handmade bowls and espresso cup in the photos. They were made by our talented friend Seb. I love the bowls so much I’ve adopted the French practice of using them for my morning cappuccino.
BA brought Sadie’s Gingersnaps to our house a few weeks before Christmas. It’s the kind of recipe you instantly add to your repertoire of favorites. I have a million cookbooks and access to a billion more on the internet, but there’s nothing like actually tasting a recipe to really know what it’s all about. This one is awesome and addictive. I asked BA if I could use it and tweak it. She was thrilled and said “Tweak away.” All I did was add candied ginger. I’ll make this one again and again, as I’m sure you will.
Thank you Seb, BA and Sadie.
Always on the look out for a gingersnap recipe. I don’t know why I think of ginger and Christmas as natural bedfellows. This now looks untweakable, with the addition of candied ginger – gingersnap nirvana. Glorious. Sophie
Hi, Sophie – Happy Christmas! Obviously you make the association because of a childhood deeply immersed in the culinary subtext of Dickens. I, on the other hand, have to rely on the culinary subtext of Huckleberry Finn, but I fight it during the holiday season. Ken
P.S. Hands – down winner for best movie seen over the past few days: HER, w/ Joaquin Phoenix and a disembodied Scarlett Johansen. Brilliant done, funny and VERY thought provoking.
Thanks so much for making Sadie’s ginger snaps come alive..love the photos, Seb’s bowls and the commentary. My cousins thank you too as we are now inspired to translate More of Sadie’s recipes for the next generation( which mostly consist of lists of ingredients with few instructions like the gem bake until done). Sadie would be so pleased..what an honor to be on your blog!!
Here’s to all good things for 2014! cheers, BA
We’re honored–these are GREAT cookies. Isn’t it great when the recipes of people you care about are passed on? Happy New Year! Here’s to more adventures – culinary and otherwise – in 2014. Ken
Beautifully impressive photos!
Hi, Haley–Thanks for the kind words. Being married to Jody makes it a bit easier to take those kind of photos. :-) I’ll check out your blog – great name! Ken
My kinda cookie! Thin and crisp. I’m all cookie’d out right now, but definitely saving this for my next urge to bake. We love our ginger cookies around here. I’ll apply for a culinary visa if we have any left over (we won’t so don’t get your hopes up.)
Thank you, Sally. I’ll alert the visa application department that you’ll be in contact. Happy New Year! Ken
Homemade gingersnaps are my favorite cookie! I love to cook, but am not a great baker, probably because I haven’t practiced as much. This one I will definitely try this weekend, looks divine!! I’ll let you know how they come out. Happy New Year!!
To be honest, we’re not the best pastry bakers either. But we do a mean job on the basics. This recipe is damn near foolproof. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Good luck. Ken
Even I can make these! :) I do have what it takes (ingredients) to put these together and I know the young man of the house thanks you for bringing this to my attention. Gingersnaps are the best cookies in the world! So glad you posted this.
I agree. I enjoy a good oatmeal raisin cookie, but I could eat gingersnaps forever, especially with espresso. Hope you had a great Christmas–and Happy New Year! Ken
Lovely stuff indeed Jody and Ken. These look very tempting. The addition of the candied ginger is superb.
Thank you, Conor. You know, the bike comes indoors this week, to be mounted on a trainer, in hopes of undoing some of the disgraceful lapses in culinary discipline I’ve witnessed this week. Thank God none of them were on my part. Happy New Year! Ken
I was brave enough to do a few miles just before the storms hit two dats ago. I was feeling pretty virtuous until I started into the cake, the chocolate, the beef, the…. You get the picture.
Happy New Year.
That cookie embargo sounds rather draconian. So glad you have a generous visa policy. I thought I’d had my fill of cookies, but these seem worth making the effort for. A fellow sufferer of the 4 p.m. slump.
This is the one time of the year when we usually allow free passage for people bearing gifts. :-) I was doing pretty well until the third batch of gingersnaps, and then all discipline just went to hell. I sure it will simply be a matter of adding a few more casual laps around the blog with our Pug. Ken
Hi BA, Jody and Ken- Merry Christmas from Ménerbes, where it’s chilly but with brilliant sunshine and more dramatic dawns than sunsets – the reverse of what you saw this summer… but there’s still the perfume of thyme and rosemary in the air…and soon…ginger! I was so happy to see this recipe as my dad’s favourite desserts were gingerbread (w/applesauce from a jar) and gingersnaps, but I’ve never made them. So we’ll raise our glasses of milk (milk, Ken, milk?!) to him… and to BA and Jody for bringing us these “madeleines”. Ps. candied ginger is part of our Xmas panoply too which is why I won’t even have to go to Super U before making these! xoxo amy
Hi Amy..your comments just make me smile..thinking of you and Gabo in your beautiful home in that glorious part of the world making ginger snaps…just brings us all closer together and thinking of those we love past and present. Wishing you all good things for 2014 and looking forward to seeing you again! Lots of love and good cheer…BA
Amy! What a treat to hear from you. Oh man do we miss you and our time together. Crazy Christmas, as usual, Oliver home, Roxanne ecstatic after getting in to college, 12 people here on Christmas Eve, with grilled quail, roast smoked goose, goose risotto and greens. Cookies, butterscotch pudding, cheese, etc. etc. With everyone playing Cards Against Humanity (don’t ask) for a raucous end to the evening. I’ll send a longer email. Milk? Why yes, Amy, to emphasize our clean-living, wholesome side. :-) Love to you and Gabo. Happy New Year and hoping we see you soon. Ken
Oh, lucky you to be given the gingersnaps! I adore ginger. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. The photos are also beautiful. Happy new year to you! – Shanna
Thank you, Shanna. I hope they bring as much pleasure to you as they brought to us. They are, I’m afraid, a little too easy. Temptation should not be that closely within reach. Happy New Year to you too! Ken
Ken – ‘Tis the season to gain five pounds as a result of cookies. We did try the recipe and they are now gone – I gifted some. Must spread the love, and the kilos. Have a great New Year – Shanna
You gifted some??!! What compassion/discipline you have! Ken
Ooh temptation! We have a self imposed embargo on new baked goods until we have finished two of the three Sri Lankan Christmas cakes (no great hardship, since the crowd has almost finished one of them in 3 days) – unless the cookies are leaving the house. Maybe I just need to dial a friend.
Sri Lankan Christmas cakes? Yes, by all means, dial a friend. I’d suggest you begin with addresses listed alphabetically. Oh, what a surprise, we’re in Boston. Yes, we accept. :-) Happy New Year! Ken
Haha! Gingersnaps and other cookies coming your way! :-)
Sri Lankan Christmas cakes uses all kinds of strange preserves (whole jar of preserved chokoes, ash pumpkin/melons, ginger), the usual dried fruit, cashews, and fine semolina. The result is one of the tastiest and intensely Christmas-y cakes I’ve ever had. Definitely worth the labour, especially if topped with cashew marzipan. Have I convinced you yet? :-)
These sound really fascinating – and tasty. I’m thinking blog post for next year. You don’t have a link to a recipe that you like, do you? Fruitcakes, as a class, are much maligned in this country. I love a well-made one, however. I once had a roommate who started fruitcakes 6 weeks in advance (they were spectacular) and we also had a Trinidadian friend who for many years gave us an annual Trinidadian “black cake,” a VERY rich, very rummy fruitcake. I miss them. I’m forced to fall back on pane forte, which is great in its own way, but not the same. Ken
I’ve heard about Trinidadian black cake! It sounds like something I should eat, or bake and then eat. Sri Lankan cake is definitely blog post for next year, it’s too good not to share.
I found two reliable recipes for this cake. The first is from our doyen of Sri Lankan cuisine, Charmaine Solomon: http://www.abc.net.au/local/recipes/2007/08/21/2011071.htm, also look up her love cake recipe, so much cashews….
But I based my cake on this recipe from Aleksandra of Three Little Halves, because I found the preserves that she used: http://www.threelittlehalves.com/2013/08/sri-lankan-christmas-cake.html
Thank you. We’ll check both out. Ken
These are just beautiful. I love how thin you make them. The presentation is gorgeous. They actually seem easy to make and I love your addition of candied ginger. Wonderful! I’m going to try these since I still have all of the ingredients from the gingerbread cake I just made! Thanks for sharing!
Hi, Amanda–I hope your Christmas was as filled with happiness and good things to eat as ours was. These are a treat, and as I said, VERY easy to make. I love gingerbread but I only remember to eat it once a year, when I pause just before setting off for Boston from Providence and my in-laws’ home, to stop at a local espresso emporium that also makes a great gingerbread. Happy New Year! Ken
Absolutely love the photo 10 of 26 of the differing spices. Beautiful colours!
Happy New Year, to all of you!
Thank you, Johnny. Best wishes for your new year as well. Ken
Absolutely beautiful x
Gingersnaps are my favorites! Those look really nice and crackly, too.
There are too schools of thought on texture: the mainstream crackly group; and the tiny dissident chewy minority. BA’s version were a little chewy the first day, then snapped into crackliness the next. Jody’s version is pure crackle. After I work off the holiday excess I’m going to make my own batch and take them out of the over 2 minutes early as a political statement. I’ll keep you posted. Ken
Dear Jody and Ken, you must have been spying on me!
Last week I candied some ginger and was longing for a good gingersnap recipe, but with Christmas and work I haven’t found the time.
Your biscuits look so gorgeous, thin and crispy just the way I like them.
Writing in down straight away, thank you so much.
Have a lovely Sunday,
Thank you, Lou. These are good. The last of our third batch disappeared yesterday. For the sake of our jean sizes, I’ll think we’ll hand them off to you for awhile. :-) Happy New Year! Ken
Happy New Year to you too :)
Hey Ken, Can these be made without a standing mixer?
Absolutely. Just make sure everything’s at room temperature – the butter needs to be soft enough to be beaten. Wish you were here – we’re in the process of making dinner – Asian flavors in goose soup – goose stock, goose, ginger, garlic, baby bok choy, shiitake and hon-meiji mushrooms, cilantro and rice stick noodles. After dinner we’ll play Banangrams. :-) Ken
Hello you two What think you about lyle’s golden syrup vs molasses? I always use in my favorite ginger bread cake recipe and Anzac cookies, but maybe too sweet? Nora
Sent from my iPhone
Hi, Nora–Go with it, if that’s all you’ve got Your cookies won’t be a dark or “molassesy,” but it should still work, if maybe a trifle sweeter. Ken
These cookies involve some of my favorite dessert flavors. Happy New Year to you both!
Thank you, Gwynne–I hope your 2014 is as productive as 2013–minus the medical stuff. Ken
Thank you, I’ve been looking for a new addiction.
It is a new year, Steve. Out with the old, in with the new. I mean, you are dropping your OLD addictions, right? Ken
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Oh, excellent job! They look wonderful! Thanks for the pingback. You we’ve been making these obsessively and we put the last batch in the freezer, thinking that would slow everyone down. Alas, no hope. Ken
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