Thanksgivings of my childhood were spent with my maternal grandparents and almost always it meant a trip to Pennsylvania and Ivin’s Famous Spiced Wafers. My cousins and I loved these cookies so much that even with all the food and family it always what we talked about in January. “Why can’t we get more spiced wafers?” They were addictive, and seasonal. So we’d have to wait 11 months until our next fix. (They’re now available at Amazon.com) When I started to bake, I never thought about making a spiced cookie, because I didn’t really know what it was. Turns out, it’s pretty much a Ginger Snap cookie, also sometimes called a Molasses Cookie, depending on which of the bevy of spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg) or sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, molasses) is most prominent in your flavor. I tried lots of recipes, some with real ginger, candied ginger, or even pepper in them. Most of them were not very good. Then my friend Carolyn (last name withheld to protect her secret) shared with me her “go to” ginger snap recipe and I was hooked. Most of the recipes I post here are versions of other people’s recipes where I felt they could be improved, and so I improved them. This is one of those rare recipes where there is nothing I can do to add to this recipe. It is just about the most perfect recipe there is. Of course, I’m a little heavy-handed with the butter, molasses and white sugar, but otherwise, it’s pretty much as written below. The original recipe calls for a frosting, which I determined was not necessary and actually detracted from the cookies.
Whenever I make these, they always disappear, whether I cook them perfectly, or too long. They are just that good. I do make sure to do a few things, though.
- I always use Kate’s unsalted butter. You may have a favorite, but that’s mine.
- Get your one egg to room temperature.
- Freshly grate your nutmeg, and don’t use powdered nutmeg.
- Make sure your spices are fresh. If you don’t know if the company that made your spices is still in business, it makes sense to go shopping.
- Chill your dough before you roll it, and keep the cookies small. They better “crack” that way, which gives them a distinct and pleasing look.
- 1 cup sugar (for cookies), plus more for rolling
- 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In a stand mixer, combine 1 cup granulated sugar with unsalted butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and molasses.
2. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and spices. Incorporate by whisking well.
3. Add to butter/molasses mixture and mix only until blended.
4. Chill dough if possible (leads to a better ‘cracked’ look in my opinion)
5. Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar. Break off pieces of dough and roll into balls; roll balls in sugar. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake about 9-10 minutes for soft, ‘ginger bread’ cookies and 11-13 minutes for ‘ginger snap’ cookies. Let cookies set on a cooling rack (which is nearly impossible). The dough freezes pretty well, but they generally don’t ever see a freezer.
Final note— I have experimented with using brown sugar and it doesn’t do anything for the cookies, so don’t bother. I find blackstrap molasses is the best kind, and it should flow pretty freely from the bottle.