Archive for: gingersnaps
Whether you call them ginger cookies or molasses cookies, these chewy and spicy cookies are a fantastic cold weather cookie. I tend to think that it is because all of the spices in them, which seem very satisfying when the weather is cool. Cold weather is also the perfect weather for doing some baking, and that alone is a good enough reason to get in the kitchen and try making your own batch of these Orange and Spice Ginger Cookies.
The cookies include ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange, vanilla and anise, so while they are called “ginger cookies” and there is a good amount of ground ginger in them, ginger is not the dominant flavor. Instead, these cookies just have a wonderful blend of spices that gives them a lot of complexity, rather than just one note. The orange goes extremely well with all of the ground spices, and the vanilla extract rounds the flavors out a bit. I like how the hint of licorice flavor from the anise extract blended well with the molasses, but this is an optional ingredient and can be left out if you don’t have any.
The cookies don’t have a long baking time because they can dry out quite easily in the oven. They should be moist inside, and that helps give them a nice chewy texture, while the sugar coating gives them a little crunch. These cookies keep extremely well when they are stored in an airtight container and should keep for more than just a few days. This makes them a great choice for holiday baking because they can be done in advance, and they also ship very well. The spices change and mellow slightly as the cookies age, and they become slightly chewier, too.
Spicy gingersnap cookies are a great alternative to graham crackers when you’re making a crust for a pie or a cheesecake. They can be ground up into crumbs just like graham crackers can be and give a warm, spicy kick to whatever they’re paired with. I like to use them a little more often in the winter, when everyone is in the mood for spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves, but I like them in general because they’re an easy way to add a lot of flavor to a recipe.
These Mini Lemon Cheesecakes are a perfect match for a gingersnap crust. The cheesecake batter is flavored with lots of lemon zest, so it has a bright citrus flavor that is a wonderful contrast for the spicy crust. I also added a small amount of lemon zest to the crust to tie the two together. I recommend choosing a flavorful type of gingersnap (Biscoff are quite good) for the best results, but you will still get a tasty dessert if you use regular graham crackers for the crust, as well.
These are a spinoff of my Chocolate Chip Mini Cheesecakes. They’re single serving cheesecakes, baked in muffin pans. I recommend using a muffin liner when baking these because it makes it much easier to remove them from the pan and serve them. If you happen to have a mini cheesecake pan, where the bases of all the muffin cavities are removable, then you can skip the muffin liners and bake your cheesecakes directly in the pan.
These can be served at room temperature shortly after being baked, or they can be chilled for up to two or three days. Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of spice and gingersnap crumbs, or a small twist of lemon zest.
Gingersnaps, whether you’re talking about the crisp cookies or the chewy variety, are a classic holiday cookie. Sweet, spicy and oh-so-flavorful, they’re a great addition to a holiday plate and go well with a cup of tea when the weather gets cold. The only thing they’re missing is some chocolate, so there are some chocoholics that pass up the gingersnaps and opt for ordinary chocolate chip cookies even around the holidays. This is an easy fix, though, so I made up some Chocolate Gingersnap Cookies to add to my holiday cookie rotation this year.
The cookies have cocoa powder in the dough and some chopped up chocolate chunks mixed in with the candied ginger that studs these cookies. This means that they really have a well balanced chocolate flavor to them. Fortunately, they are also just spicy enough that the gingersnap spices have no problem shining through in the finished cookie. The candied ginger actually goes a long way here, since every bite is gets a little extra kick of ginger flavor to it.
These have a chewy, moist center and a nice crisp exterior to them. They’re good warm from the oven, when the chocolate is still soft, and they will keep well for about two days. I like to use coarse sugar for rolling because it makes the “crust” just a little bit crunchier, but if you don’t have any regular sugar will work just as well.
There is something about molasses cookies that gives you a warm, snuggly feeling when you eat them. Part of this comes from the fact that these cookies are usually seasonal treats, baked in warm kitchens when it’s cool outside. Part comes from the chewiness of the cookies, which allows you to slowly savor each bite and take your time as you eat. The rest of this feeling can probably be attributed to the fact that the cookies are often well-spiced and offer a lot more depth in the flavor department than the average cookie.
I know I like to use quite a variety of spices when I bake up a batch. These spicy cookies include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper, and get an extra kick from some diced candied ginger mixed into the batter. Molasses has such a dark, sweet flavor that it is a good background for all the spices; the molasses flavor doesn’t get lost in a heavily spiced cookie, but it isn’t overwhelming because there are so many other flavors to balance it out. I added a touch of honey to the cookies just to add a touch of lightness to the overall flavor. You can simply use a bit more molasses if you want your cookies to be a bit darker.
When these come out of the oven, the cookies have a wonderfully crisp surface and a soft, chewy interior. The dough is rolled in sugar before baking and it is this sugar layer that crisps up in the oven. After storage, the cookies become softer and chewier. Molasses and honey help the cookies to stay fresh longer and moist longer than many other cookies, so you’ll be able to savory these slowly – if the spicy-sweet combination of the cookies doesn’t keep you reaching for more right away.
To give my cookies their finished look, I rolled the dough in a mixture of raw, turbinado and muscovado sugars, rather than just using plain/raw sugar. Brown or muscovado sugar alone is not ideal for rolling because of the way it packs down so easily. They do add some extra flavor compared to other sugars, however, so just mix them with something a little less sticky to make things easier.
Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar-making process, and is made with both sugar cane and sugar beets. Specifically, molasses is the concentrated cane syrup or beet syrup leftover when sugar crystals are extracted.
The most widely available molasses is sugar cane molasses because it is often used in baking. It comes in three varieties: light, dark and blackstrap. When sugar cane is being processed into sugar, the juice from crushed or pressed sugar cane is boiled to prompt the crystallization process. The liquid resulting from the first cooking of the sugar cane syrup is light molasses. It has a relative high sugar content and a fairly mild flavor. Dark molasses is the liquid resulting from the second boiling of the sugar can juice. It is less sweet, quite a bit thicker and darker in color than light molasses. Dark molasses is sometimes called “robust molasses,” as well. Blackstrap molasses is the darkest, thickest and least sweet of the types of molasses and is the result of the third and final boiling of the sugar cane juice.
Molasses can also be sulphured or unsulphured. Sulphur was added to sugar cane juice during production to act as a preservative, to kill unwanted bacteria and even to help whiten the resulting sugar crystals. Recipe-wise, there should be no difference if you use either, but the vast majority of molasses produced these days is the unsulphured variety, so the question is unlikely to arise at all.
Unless it is labeled differently, the average jar of molasses in the supermarket is probably unsulphured light molasses. It is also the type of molasses that most recipes are developed for. If a recipe doesn’t specifically call for dark or blackstrap, you’ll want to experiment with them carefully because they can completely change the flavor of a gingerbread or molasses cookie.