Crackly, sugar-topped spicy ginger cookies. Since I was a kid, they have been my favourite cookie to dip into milk (sorry chocolate chip). My Dad used to buy the hard and very spicy “snap” version when I was younger. I guess that’s why I used to dip them – it softened them and made the spice bearable for my young tongue.
But this version is soft and has just the right amount of spice. (Of course, if you prefer a harder version, you can just bake them a bit longer.)
When I made this particular batch, it was the night before the last day of school and I had forgotten to make the teacher treats. So there I was, in a rather dark kitchen, rolling little balls of dough in the sugar and waiting for them to be cooked so I could go to bed and get up early one last time before the kids were home permanently for two months.
I was rather disappointed when I realized that they weren’t baking the way they were supposed to. (Told you that not everything works out for me!) Instead of puffing up nice and big and crackling on the top, they were just sort of mushing down and staying small.
Panic briefly made me wonder how late I would actually be staying up that night, but common sense prevailed and I figured I had better try on just to see if they still tasted okay. (This was probably unnecessary since I had already tested the dough – more than once!)
I was happy to discover that although they didn’t spread properly, they were still tasty and reasonably soft. Crisis was averted and they promptly went into paper bags for the following morning’s distribution.
But I did wonder exactly what had gone wrong. I had made these cookies dozens of time before and most of the time they turned out the way they were supposed to.
I was puzzled, so I did what everyone does: I googled it. Three different theories were presented – one, that the butter was too cold and didn’t allow the cookies to spread properly; two – I had mixed the dough too much with the mixer and made them “tough”; or three – the leaveners were bad and had not been able to work their magic of making the dough rise in the oven.
I knew the leaveners were good – I had just bought them a couple of months prior. I also knew I hadn’t mixed the dough any more than usual, so that theory was unlikely. By process of elimination, it must have been the butter temperature.
That possibility rang true since the butter was barely room temperature. The day hadn’t been very warm and the sun had already set, with the cool of the evening coming in through my windows, cooling the house down even more. I thought about it and realized that the butter had been rather stiff in the mixer and the mixer was working a little harder than usual.
I haven’t made the cookies since, although I intended to do so before writing this post, but life has again gotten in the way. I figured posting this recipe, which I have successfully made many times before, was more important. I will, however, update you when I make them again, making sure the butter is sufficiently soft.
- ¾ cup butter (softened)
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- Extra white sugar
- Cream together butter and sugar
- Beat in egg and molasses.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Add to the creamed mixture.
- Form dough into small balls, smaller than a golf ball.
- Roll dough balls into sugar. Do not flatten.
- Place balls 2” apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, or until tops are crackled and lightly browned.
- Let cookies cool 10 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack.
- You can easily double the batter for twice as many delicious cookies!