Who doesn’t love a crisp, crunchy ginger snap? I have made these cookies for years—just the way my grandmother had written the recipe decades ago—until last year when I thought I might be able to improve up on it. First I added some other forms of ginger to amp up the flavor, and then, since I love the spicy bite of fresh ginger, I added a hint of cayenne to coax out even a little more heat. Now I’ve got my own amazing version that I seriously can’t stop eating.
The recipe below is my Grandma’s original recipe along with my optional forms of ginger to boost that ginger deliciousness, as well as optional cayenne pepper to enhance that gingery burn for those, like me, who love a sweet and spicy kick. Whether you use none or all of my options, you’ll still end up with to-die-for ginger snaps!
Diane’s Triple-Ginger Ginger Snaps
1 cup sugar
¾ cup shortening (4¾ ounces)
¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) molasses
1 ounce fresh ginger root, peeled and grated (1½ Tablespoons) (optional)
1½ ounces crystallized/candied ginger, minced (1/3 C) (optional)
2 cups flour (9½ ounces)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 1½ teaspoons ginger
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Extra sugar (1 cup or so) for rolling
Cream sugar and shortening until smooth. Add egg, beat well. Add molasses and optional candied/fresh ginger(s), beat well. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and gradually stir into the dough. Refrigerate dough for 8-24 hours.
To bake: Heat oven to 375° F. Form 1-inch balls of dough; roll balls in sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 8-9 minutes. Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.
Step by Step Details
I highly, highly recommend upping the ginger quotient by adding in some grated fresh ginger root and/or the minced candied ginger (I get mine from Trader Joe’s). Play around with the quantities: my recipe just reflects what I had on hand at the time. This was about an ounce of each.
This recipe starts out pretty much like any other cookie recipe: cream the sugar and shortening, add an egg, and then add any remaining non-dry ingredients. In this case, it’s molasses and optional candied and/or fresh ginger(s).
Beat this really well. Put the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and whisk them together.
Yes, that’s the cayenne right in the middle. I found that ¼ teaspoon of cayenne mildly enhanced the natural burn of the ginger, and a ½ teaspoon gave it a more noticeable “enhancement” without overpowering the other flavors. Gradually stir flour mixture into the dough (or mix on lowest power).
Now comes the hardest part. You have to wait while the dough refrigerates: about 8-24 hours. The longer you can leave it chilling, the better your results. According to the baking experts at King Arthur Flour, chilling the dough helps keep cookies from spreading too much and it concentrates the flavor and dries out the dough a little, leading to a crisper, crunchier ginger snap. So it basically puts the “snap” in ginger snap!
To bake: Heat oven to 375° F. Working with chilled dough, form 1-inch balls (or scoop dough with a melon baller and roll into balls). To coat them in sugar, I use a plastic bag of sugar and add a few dough balls at a time.
And, since I usually make these around Christmas, I like to add some red and green sugar to the mix for added holiday cheer.
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375° for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown a little.
They will come out a little rounded, so to flatten them like this (making them more crisp), I drop/slam the baking sheet onto the counter when I take the cookies out. It compresses them instantly and flattens them out.
Now comes the second hardest part of the process: seeing how long you can keep these yummy treats around. Enjoy!