December 4th is National Cookie Day.
While there seems to be an endless variety of cookies worldwide, there are eight basic types of cookies.
The recipe below is for the ginger cookie—a seasonal choice that is neither gingerbread nor gingersnaps.
Ginger cookies are a type of drop cookie. A ball of dough is dropped onto the cookie sheet, and spreads out into a flat cookie as it bakes. Molasses cookies and spice cookies* are close relatives.
The Toll House cookie may be the most familiar example of a drop cookie.
Ginger became prominent as a holiday spice in the Middle Ages. At the end of the 11th century, Crusaders returned to Europe from the Middle East with ginger and other spices.
In addition to savory uses, ginger began to be used to flavor cakes and cookies. It was costly, however—as was sugar—that most “regular folks” only enjoyed ginger cookies and gingerbread (Lebkuchen) during the Christmas season.
(Trivia: Only Lebkuchen Guild members could bake gingerbread, except during Christmas, when anyone could bake it.)
See the difference between ginger cookies, gingersnaps and gingerbread below.
Thanks to Plugrá, the favorite premium butter of America’s pastry chefs, for the recipe.
These are delicious with coffee or tea, hot chocolate, milk, or a glass of mulled cider.
Check to see that your aromatic spices (ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves) still have plenty of aroma. If the aroma is faded, the flavor will be, too.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. WHISK together the flour, spices, baking soda, salt and pepper in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. CREAM the butter with 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, at medium speed.
4. SCRAPE down the bowl and beat in the molasses and egg. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir on low speed until well blended, scraping the bowl occasionally.
5. FORM the dough into 1-inch balls and place onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the dough is firm. Roll the cookies in remaining ⅓ cup of granulated sugar to completely coat each ball of dough.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GINGERBREAD, GINGERSNAPS & GINGER COOKIES
A ginger cookie is a soft, molasses-type cookie that is flavored with ginger and other spices. It is larger than, and otherwise differs from, a gingersnap.
Unlike the fancier gingerbread, a gingersnap is a small, thin, plain round cookie with a hard, smooth texture like a gingerbread cookie. It is a smaller version of the traditional German Christmas cookie known as Lebkuchen. Like a gingerbread cookie, gingersnaps break with a “snap.”
Gingersnaps contain a larger amount of ginger, and thus are spicier, than the chewier ginger cookies.
> THE HISTORY OF COOKIES
*Spice cookies and ginger cookies have similar seasonings, but the ginger flavor is much more prominent in ginger cookies.
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