Baking with Julia – Gingersnaps

IMG_4576True confessions: I really, 100% to the depths of my soul, hate making cutout cookies. I always start out with the best intentions and visions of making beautiful snowflakes or something like that and after rolling out just one measly sheet I am cursing anything I can think of and berating myself for getting into this kind of project yet again. One time I actually called a friend and asked her to yell at me a little for motivation because I was seriously considering giving up and just throwing the dough away even though I had planned on making several batches and giving them as gifts to co-workers and friends. Luckily she is well-versed in both tough tough love and endearing bitchiness and she got my butt in gear. So the fact that I made these into slice and bake cookies and then did the lazy drizzle instead of actually frosting them should surprise no one.

Gingersnaps are meant to be little snack cookies that you eat on your break with your afternoon tea anyway. They’re not trying to impress anyone. I did give them a little pop of sparkle with some white sanding sugar but it’s really not necessary. They’re just happy to be nominated thank you, they know they’re not winning any awards in the looks department. But they do take the cake in the taste and texture category for sure! They are perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside just like a gingersnap should be. Actually there has been some debate that a gingersnap should be more “snappy” but I preferred the texture of these guys. So yeah, I hate making cutout cookies and I clearly don’t know squat about a real gingersnap but I loved these little babies and I hope you will too.

Gingersnaps

(adapted from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan)

1/4 cup sugar

3 T unsulfured molasses

2 T unsalted butter, at room temp

1/8 t ginger

1/8 t cinnamon

1/8 t baking soda

1/8 t salt

1 1/2 T water

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

(for the powdered sugar glaze)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

water

Put the sugar, molasses, butter, spices, baking soda, & salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed to cream the ingredients together, about 2 minutes. Add the water and flour and mix on low just until the dough comes together.

Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and then carefully mold it into a log shape. The dough is very wet so this is a little tricky but it can be done. Take a cardboard paper towel tube and slip the plastic wrapper log inside to help it keep the shape, then place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour or even overnight. About an hour before you want to slice and bake the cookies, place the log (still in it’s paper towel tube) in the freezer to help it firm up even more.

Preheat the oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the freezer, unwrap it, and moving quickly use your sharpest knife to cut the log into 1/4″ slices. Arrange the slices on the baking sheets (these don’t spread much so you only need about an inch of space in between) and bake for about 11 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the pans before removing them to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling, put about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl and drizzle water into the sugar while stirring it until you have a nice little glaze going on. When the cookies are completely cool, use a spoon to drizzle the powdered sugar glaze artfully onto your little gingersnaps. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar if desired. Enjoy!

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Baking with Julia – Gingerbread Babycakes

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Though I don’t consider myself to be a last-minute person generally, for some reason I always seem to do these Baking with Julia assignments just in the nick of time. Thus, I just finished photographing and eating my babycakes. I know the recipe says Baby Cakes but my mom has always called me “babycakes” as a nickname and I like it better that way. I have the day off (which feels great by the way) and I noticed something while I was baking and cleaning up my kitchen – I kind of hate being home in the middle of the day because the harsh light of day reveals every single speck of dirt everywhere and makes me feel like I’m a terrible housekeeper. I much prefer baking, cooking, cleaning, and (let’s be honest) getting naked in soft, gentle lighting that masks things like dust, dirt, and fat. Though I will say that natural light is great for photography. I will say that.

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So was everyone else a little put off by the huge amount of molasses in this sucker?? I mean look at it –  I think we’d all agree that that’s a shitload of molasses! The recipe came together just like Dorie said it would and since I didn’t have exactly the right pans, I broke out my collection of mini pie plates and got cracking. I was a little afraid of them sticking but I buttered and floured like a madwoman and they came out beautifully.

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I did have to bake them for like 20 minutes longer than the recipe stated but I figured that had to do with me using different pans. The cakes have a really great brownie-like texture – crunchy and chewy on the outside and soft and yummy on the inside. The molasses flavor is pretty strong but I like that. I made some whipped cream to go on top and since it’s weird global warming winter here (seriously it’s December 4th in the Frozen Tundra and it’s 50 degrees F)  my mint plant still looks great and it helped me out by contributing some cutesy little sprigs for garnish. I’ll be distributing these to friends, co-workers, and neighbors and I hope they dig them as much as I do. If you want to make some babycakes of your own, check out Karen’s Kitchen Stories for the recipe.

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