Ginger Snaps
Makes 40-50 cookies
From The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution (Clarkson Potter) by Alice Waters.These cookies get crisp when cool and are great holiday cookies. I like them coated with lots of crystals of coarse sugar, which is called Hawaiian washed sugar in the US, or cassonade here in France. (Coarse sugar is also available online.)You can also rev-up the spices, and add ¼-½ teaspoon ground cardamom, cloves, nutmeg or allspice to suit your taste.
2 cups (280g) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
11 tablespoons (150g) butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup 80g) mild-flavored molasses* (sometimes called ‘light’ molasses)
1 large egg, at room temperature
my optional step: coarse sugar crystals for coating the cookies
1. Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter just until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides of the bowl.
3. Stir in the vanilla, molasses and egg.
4. Mix in the dry ingredients gradually until the dough is smooth.
5. Divide the dough in two equal portions and roll each on a lightly-floured surface until each is about 2-inches (5cm) around. Don’t worry if they’re not perfect; you can neaten them up in a second.
6. Wrap each in plastic wrap then roll them lightly on the counter to smooth them out. Refrigerate, or better yet, freeze the cookie logs until firm.
7. To bake, preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
8. Slice cookie dough into 1/4-inch (a scant 1 cm) rounds with a sharp knife. Dip one side and press firmly in a bowl of coarse sugar if you want (you can also use granulated sugar instead), and place sugar-side up on baking sheet, evenly-spaced apart. Leave a couple of inches, about 5 cm, between cookies since they’ll spread while baking.
9. Bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during baking, until deep-golden brown. The cookies will puff up a bit while baking, then settle down when they’re done. Bake on the lower end of the range for softer cookies, and more for snappier ones, depending on your oven.
10. Let the cookies cool two minutes, then remove them with a spatula and transfer them to a cooling rack.

Storage: The dough can be refrigerated for up to five days, or frozen for up to three months. Once baked, the cookies can be kept in an air-tight container for a couple of days but like anything made with butter, of course they’re best the day they’re baked.

*Outside the United States, molasses is often found in natural foods stores. For other overseas baking tips, check my post American Baking in Paris.