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Classic Cookies: Baking Gingersnaps

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Dec 14, 2011 5:30PM

We all have a particular cookie that quintessentially speaks “holiday” to us. What is it for you? Fudge? Spritz cookies? Macarons? Peanut Butter Kisses? Chocolate Crinkles?

Whatever it is, we wish you a good time in the kitchen this holiday season.

A rule of thumb when making a classic holiday cookie is to use the oldest recipe you can find. It is a scientific fact that grandmothers make the best cookies, so using old recipes guarantees that you’re making an authentic holiday cookie.

Recreated for you here on Chicagoist, here is a recipe for gingersnaps that is over 60 years old - it's from a Wisconsin Electric Power Company 1950 cookie booklet (owned and loved by this writer’s grandmother - note the masking tape holding the booklet together). You’ll see that the ingredients are simple and call for real butter. These cookies are perfect with a cup of cider or cocoa by a warm fire.

Happy holiday baking!

Gingersnaps (recipe based off the 1950 Wisconsin Electric Power Company annual Christmas Cookie booklet)

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup molasses (found in the baking aisle near corn syrup)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons white sugar

This works best if the butter is slightly chilled, but not cold-hard. In a mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, and then gradually add the molasses. Add the egg and continue to beat.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Reserve the white sugar.

Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Beat well after each addition to ensure a homogenous consistency. It helps to intermittently stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula.

Place reserved white sugar in a bowl. Using your hands, roll the dough into walnut-sized balls (larger than marbles, smaller than golf balls) and dip into the sugar. Place on a baking sheet greased or lined with parchment paper.

Slightly flatten the balls with the flat side of a spatula or the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the bottoms don’t burn.

Cool on a rack and store for up to a week in an airtight container. Cookies will harden and crisp after about a day. This recipe should make about 3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookies.