Ginger Snaps

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a ginger snap cookie broken in half

Credit: Stephanie Loo

Ginger snaps are often considered a holiday cookie, but they’re great all year round. They’re known for their cracks on the top of the cookie, as well as for their thin, crunchy texture when you break them in half.  The combination of molasses and a blend of spices means these cookies deliver the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Enjoy them on their own, or try using them to make ice cream sandwiches!

Why Is It Called a Ginger Snap?

Ginger snaps are cookies with roots in Europe; they came to America when German, Dutch, and English settlers arrived. The “snap” part of ginger snaps comes from the German or Middle Dutch word snappen, which means “to seize quickly.”

What Are Ginger Snaps Made of?

Ground ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves give these ginger snaps their distinctive warm and spiced flavor, while the combination of baking soda reacting with the molasses helps the cookies to spread. The spices in this recipe get mixed in with the butter and sugar to deepen the flavor, as fat is a flavor carrier. Using all granulated sugar and baking them at a lower temperature gives these cookies their signature crunch.

What’s the Difference Between Gingerbread and Ginger Snaps?

Unlike gingerbread or other ginger cookies or molasses cookies, ginger snaps bake for slightly longer to obtain their desirable crispy texture, versus gingerbread cookies which tend to be chewier and are often cut into decorative shapes.

These crunchy classics are just as easy to make as they are tasty.

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/2 sticks

    (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 1/4 cups

    plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 3 teaspoons

    ground ginger, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground cloves

  • 1/3 cup

    molasses (not blackstrap)

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

For rolling:

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground ginger

Instructions

  1. Place 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Place 1 large egg on the counter. Let both sit at room temperature until the butter is softened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, place 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Add 1 1/4 cups of the granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of the ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well-combined, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the egg, 1/3 cup molasses, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl once halfway through, about 1 minute total. The dough will be soft and sticky at this point. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate while the oven heats.

  4. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  5. Place the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

  6. Portion the dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches wide; a medium (or #30) cookie scoop is best for this (if the dough is too soft, refrigerate until firm). Toss the balls in the spiced sugar mixture to coat all over. Place on the baking sheets about 3 inches apart, 6 per sheet. (The cookies spread during baking.) Refrigerate the remaining dough balls.

  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet from front to back and between racks. Bake until the cookies have spread and have a crackled surface, about 10 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets. Use an offset spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat baking the remaining dough balls on cooled baking sheets.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered, and refrigreated. Alternatively, form the dough balls (do not roll in the spiced sugar) and freeze until solid, then transfer to a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Roll the frozen dough balls in the sugar mixture then bake from frozen, adding an extra 1 to 2 minutes bake time as needed.

Storage: Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Stephanie Loo

Contributor

Stephanie Loo is a pastry cook at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and a graduate of the Wharton School and the Institute of Culinary Education. She is also a freelance food writer, recipe developer, recipe tester, and food styling assistant.

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