My maternal grandmother had twelve children and fifty-some grandchildren, my first cousins. She had a garden and chickens to tend, a big batch of kids, clothes to sew, dinners to cook. In later years life was calmer. She greeted us in her large kitchen and invited every grandchild who visited to dig into her cookie jar. Shaped like a jester, it was filled with Gingersnaps, and rarely, but significantly, with Oreos. Two definitive memories I have of visiting her are the Gingersnaps and the chickens. Well, and that I learned to literally divide and conquer an Oreo in that kitchen.
My mom started making Grandma’s Gingersnaps when I was a teenager and I began when my own daughter was little. Every December a few batches are made. The spicy aroma takes us back, family stories are remembered and we have one more. And then one more.
Happy to have my mom’s original handwritten recipe, which she copied from my grandmother. I served her one fresh out of the oven this morning.
Excellent holiday fare, these are also tasty in June or September. Oh, and a link to the Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread recipe follows.
Grandma’s Gingersnap Cookie Recipe
Ingredients: Cream together 3/4 C shortening (can be butter, margarine or a mix), 1 C sugar, 1 egg, 1/4 C molasses/ Sift together and reserve 2 C flour (I add an additional 1/2 C of flour), 2 t soda, 1 t ginger, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t salt. Set aside an additional 1/2 C sugar for later.
I often double this recipe and freeze extra cookies or dough. I also add a tablespoon of finely grated fresh ginger to a double batch. A person could add more or less than that, or none at all.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees/ Cream shortening, sugar, eggs and molasses together until smooth and creamy/ Then add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly/ Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes/ Dough will be sticky/ If dough is refrigerated for a longer period that’s fine, but let it rest at room temperature for just a few minutes before proceeding/ If some dough is unused, refrigerate until ready to bake. It will be fine covered in the fridge for a day or two.
This is the gooey part, but hey, when the last cookie’s done you get to lick your fingers and it’s worth it. Spoon approximate teaspoons of dough and deposit several at a time into bowl with the 1/2 C sugar/More sugar may be needed/ Gently toss in sugar and form into balls/ These don’t have to be perfect – they’ll become circles when they bake anyway/ Bake for 10 – 12 minutes (longer for crispier), until they are browned and slightly crisp.
When cooled these cookies are crisp on the outside, chewy inside. Jester cookie jar, where are you now?
This is a picture of and a link to Etta’s Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread. Outstanding, delicious, showstopper of a winter dessert, thanks to Tom Douglas. Find it along with other pear recipes at a previous post, Bring Pears to the Party.