Homemade ginger snap cookies

C is for cookie

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Ginger snaps

Ginger Snap cookies: A ginger cookie recipe to get excited about. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

Letters come in a small toolbox, room for just 26. One which could be more compact. To wit: Why C?

C is familiar, fundamental, famously ABC. It's got pride of place at the front of the line. But is it necessary?

C cranks out clack, like K. C can go soft, like S. It can do both in a single word, including one that nearly describes its shape: circle.

C often plays sidekick, mouthing: "what K said." But K could get along without a sidekik.

Engineers like a certain redundancy, especially when a job is gingerly. It's reassuring to have backup brakes, or double gaskets, or safety snaps. But do we need fail-safe consonants? Couldn't we can C, or demote it to its only unique task: chugging along in CH?

Presumably. But C is cute. And it stands for cookie, which, the Cookie Monster points out, can be fashioned into C with a single bite. In the words of the big blue guy himself: That's good enough for me.

Ginger snaps

Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 8 minutes
Makes: About 4 dozen 2-inch cookies

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Fluff:
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed (or a wooden spoon and patience), beat butter, shortening, sugar and molasses until fluffy. Beat in egg.

Mix:
Sift flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt over butter mixture. Mix on low speed until a soft dough comes together, cleaning the sides of the bowl.

Bake:
Shape small balls of dough; the easiest way is to use a 1¼-inch diameter ice cream scoop. Set balls 2 inches apart on lightly buttered baking sheets. Slide into a 375-degree oven and bake until cracks form on the surface, about 8 minutes.

Cool:
Cool completely on pans. Cookies will come out of the oven puffed and cool to flat. Store in an airtight container along with a piece of bread, to retain chewy texture.

Provenance:
Adapted from a recipe sent by reader Suzanne Edler.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.

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