I am not a massive fan of Christmas- especially when it comes to buying lots of small cheap presents for people or seemingly meaningless cards (sorry/not sorry, I’m definitely on the aspies scale), but I do like baking. So this year, I’ve decided to make ginger snaps instead of buying a)said crappy present (though Zara L. did buy me an amazing light up bouncy snow globe one year, so there is hope for us all) or b) a christmas card with no feelings in it. Coz I’m all about the feelz and nothing says “I feel ya!” more than some spicy cookies. And since I’m now freelancing and get to spend an inordinate amount of time at home, I get to make ginger people. Ginger trees, ginger snowman. A WHOLE TOWN OF GINGERS. Ginger what, I’m not sure. Because I can’t tell the difference between a gingerbread man (does it have to come in a man/house shape?), ginger cookie (I think these are more like the stuff you get from Fortnum’s), ginger snap (I thought these were tuiles, like brandy snaps, but no…), or ginger nuts (like the Mcvities ones).
Naturally my first port of call is Cook’s Illustrated (since they are reliable and have good sub editing). The poor gingers were hiding behind a paywall (I forgot to renew my sub), but this is lifted from someone else who lifted it off them. I’ve tried to adjust the measurements as much as I could as I know that most people don’t have American measuring cups. And it’s a pain in the ass if you don’t have them.
These are supposed to be ginger snaps, but whatever. I made a town of ginger things because it makes me happy, but you can make boring round ones if you can’t be bothered. Either way works quite well. You get a bit more lift and cracks on the round ones.
Ginger Snaps (Makes around 4 dozens, or endless cookie cutting)
You can hand mix it, but it’s easier with a beater up to the flour stage. If you want to make shapes and don’t have a rolling pin, I’ve been using a bottle of wine for years. Save on storage space and it’s fantastic coz you have something to drink afters as well. Otherwise no special requirements.
- 320g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
- 170g Butter (preferably unsalted)
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger or 4 drops Holy Lama ginger extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 85g molasses (or 2 heaped dessert spoon)
- 275g dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon finely grated ginger (I like Vias Bentog Ginger Puree, apparently some others contains salt and vinegar and stuff?)
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
- Extra granulated sugar
Turn oven on to fan 160C. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
Melt butter in frying pan and cook till a little bit brown – it should stop foaming and turn colour very slightly. Not too brown, because that’s burnt (you don’t want burnt butter cookies). 2-4 minutes. Take off heat and mix in the ground ginger, cloves, and pepper. Let cool for 1 minute (cool enough so your eggs don’t get curdled!).
Add the dark brown sugar, molasses, grated ginger and eggs. Mix well then add the flour mixture in 2 stages. You might need to get your hands dirty to mix it properly! Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
Either make balls and flatten out to make ginger snaps or roll the dough out and use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Sprinkle the extra sugar on top of each biscuit, pressing it in lightly. *I found this a really forgiving recipe so set your own thickness. It tasted great thick or thin.
Bake for 15 minutes, cool on rack.
You can be very fancy and have multiple cooking sheets and cooling racks going, but I only have 1 of each and it works very well as 15 minutes was all it took for the cookies to cool on the rack, and it can be transferred to a plate. Take care when transferring the dough onto the hot cookie sheet though, as you can’t move it around.
Eat. Decapitate your ginger people. Have a gingepocalyspe. Populate ginger town. Enjoy Christmas!
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