Personally I am not a fan of cookies and baked goods. I can resist all of it (in fact, resistance is not the issue since I am not even tempted). I don’t like chocolate, do not like nuts and generally don’t see anything redeeming about a number of ingredients. My one weakness is spice. Gingerbread and gingersnap cookies really do it for me, so I generally try not to bake them very often (an effort eased by the rarity of molasses. A colleague and his girlfriend (both of whom I would consider my friends now) actually gave me a lovely jar of molasses, which I put to good use in my last baking marathon of 2010 in a new gingersnap recipe. Thanks to E and A!).
It really is not possible for me to make holiday cookies without including gingersnaps and gingerbread in the mix. I have been making the same gingersnap recipe all my life, based on the recipe my mother always used, but I have found that it has not been yielding the results I wanted. (I do not know what changed – maybe it’s the ingredients or something because I am not living at a different altitude and don’t find the climate or air pressure, etc. to be significantly different from the environment in which I always made the original gingersnap recipe. For those who do not know, these kinds of environmental factors actually alter baking and its results a great deal, and you will have to take steps to change your recipes, particularly the amount of leavening agent used, to account for altitude and the like.)
I found a new recipe for gingersnaps, which is actually vegan. I kept it mostly vegan but still used real butter. Another difference in the recipe here is that it is heavy on ginger (requiring a large dose of ground ginger as well as fresh grated ginger, which I skipped when I made these, as I did not have any fresh ginger on hand and could not find any in the local store) and does not call for a variety of spices (other than a bit of cinnamon). My standard recipe, as well as most other gingersnap recipes I see, asks for a variety of spices. This new dough also turns out being a lot more “solid” than many other fluffier cookie doughs. It is a lot like putty and not at all sticky.
The cookies themselves turn out soft and thick, which is what I was going for. (I made them very small because I needed to make about a million of them, but they would be perfect as very large cookies.) Many people want their gingersnaps to actually… snap. Crispy, thin, crunchy. I don’t fall into that camp.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup water (or more as needed)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of molasses
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Mix dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix butter, molasses, vanilla, grated fresh ginger and water together. (You can use between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of molasses. They have a strong flavor, so you can decide how much to use based on how strong a molasses taste you want to achieve.)
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir by hand. Keep stirring until a dough forms. If it is too dry, add more water, a couple of tablespoons at a time (do not overdo it) until the dough comes together and achieves a very soft clay-like consistency.
You can refrigerate the dough if you wish, but I didn’t.
Preheat oven to 375F. Roll dough in small balls and then roll in sugar. Press the dough balls flat with your hand or with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake 9 to 10 minutes.