Childhood memories…..I closed my eyes for a moment and became a 10-year-old again sitting in Grammy’s big warm kitchen in her worn rocking chair next to the sunlit window. The cat jumps on my lap and starts to purr and Grammy smiles as she hands me a freshly made ginger snap.
Isn’t it true that sometimes a place or a certain food jumps out of nowhere and transports you back in time? The other day I was trying to recall the name of the brand of ginger cookies that my mom used to buy whenever the homemade cookie supply was depleted and she had her craving for molasses and ginger. As a kid, I thought just about every goodie was made from molasses and ginger. These ginger cookies were different though, as they were quite large and scalloped shaped, very thin, quite dark, and came in a red box with a clear plastic top. I am not positive, but I think they may have been “Purity Ginger Cookies”, from Purity Factories in Newfoundland, and that is still in business today. Mom usually made delicious soft and chewy ginger cookies, but these were very crisp, spicy, and held their shape when dunked in a glass of cold milk.
Anyway, I decided to try to recreate the wonderful crisp spicy cookies that were stuck in my childhood memory. I checked online to see if I could find any pictures of crisp ginger snaps and sure enough, I came across a photo that caught my attention.
They were Swedish Ginger Cookies (Pepparkakor) from the site Food 52 and Taylor Rondestvedt wrote the article. The cookies had the look that I was after!
I baked up a batch (made lots) and I even used 1 teaspoon of the cayenne (it called for 1-2) that was quoted in the recipe. I like spice, but not that much heat, as well I noticed the cayenne gave the cookies a slightly different flavour from what I was after. We enjoyed the cookies though and found them nice and crisp, however, they lacked the darker colour I wanted as you can see in the photo below.
The next photo is of the second batch of cookies I made substituting the cayenne for 1/4-teaspoon black pepper, 2 tablespoons molasses replacing the maple syrup, changing the water to cold coffee, and increasing the ginger to one tablespoon. They were awesome and had the distinctive colour and flavour of molasses that I was craving, plus lots of ginger, combined with the old-fashioned “snap” that the store bought cookies had. Grammy would have been proud of these cookies!
My ginger snaps are unadorned and homey looking, yet loaded with spiciness and crisp all the way through. Scrumptious! My nostalgic craving for big crisp ginger snaps was satisfied! So dig out your mixing bowl and bake up a batch, you will not be disappointed. The cookies require a bit of planning ahead as the dough needs a few hours in the refrigerator before baking, so just keep that in mind. Believe me, they are worth the wait!
- Recipe adapted from Taylor Rondestdvedt’s Swedish Ginger Cookies
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons fancy molasses
- 1 tablespoon cold coffee
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 11/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients.
- Using a stand mixer beat together butter, sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add egg, molasses and coffee.
- Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.
- Remove the dough from the bowl onto a board or parchment paper, and form into a large ball.
- Separate into 4 sections and wrap each section in plastic wrap, slightly flattening with your hand into a round disk.
- Refrigerate for 2-6 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350.F.
- Remove one or two disks from the refrigerator at a time. If the disk is rock hard let it sit out for a few minutes to soften a bit. Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll between plastic wrap. Starting in the center of the disk roll out towards the edge until it is 1/8 inch thick. Use cookie cutters (I used a 3-inch scalloped edge).
- Gently place cookies on parchment lined cookie tray. (If the cookies stick as you are transferring them to the cookie sheet, place them in the freezer for 2-3 minutes). Slide a thin metal spatula under cookies to transfer.
- Bake 8 or 9 minutes, in the middle of the oven (8 was perfect in my oven). Rotate cookies halfway through baking and watch carefully that they don’t burn towards the end of the cooking time.
- Remove from the oven and leave on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Makes about 40 large cookies.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze cookies. The disks may also be frozen for later use.
- For best flavour, be sure to use fresh spices.