Every year we bake cookies to give as Christmas gifts and to eat during the holidays. We started this when we were newly married and truly couldn’t afford to give anything but cookies. Now we continue because I think we would be disowned by friends and family if we didn’t. And we have a good time in the process (quality control tasting, anyone?).
Understand that we don’t make cut out cookies, or beautifully decorated cookies. I would much rather spend my time making tasty cookies full of real butter, sugar, nuts and chocolate and leaving the decorating to more patient souls than I. Most of our cookies are drop cookies, roll into balls to bake or slice and bake. Taste trumps looks in my book. Not to say that our cookies aren’t pretty, but they also aren’t too terribly time consuming. I have worked out a system to fit the baking into busy weeks (stay tuned for a future post on how to do it).
Many years we start baking soon after Halloween and stash the results in the deep freezer in the basement. Those are the years that we make twelve or more batches of cookies. This year we are making only eight. We are still giving as many cookies as gifts, but we don’t need cookies for eating around Christmas, since we are going to be in Florida, visiting Rich’s parents.
Every year we panic that we won’t have enough cookies, and every year we have more than enough. I keep the lists from year to year, and the one from 2010 has a note in my handwriting saying, “Really, we have enough cookies, even for teacher gifts and Rich’s office. Really we do.” Nothing like a note from a past self to the future self (who needs a time machine?).
This year so far we have made my grandmother’s recipe for gingersnaps and snickerdoodles. Mom’s mom was a great cookie baker and I love that I have the recipes that she used. She often would pull out cookies at the end of Sunday dinner. She kept them in an old three-pound coffee can. I wonder what happened to that can? It is probably long gone, but I can still remember my excitement, waiting for her to pull the top off so I could see what kind of cookies were inside.
Today you get gingersnaps. The snickerdoodles are coming soon.
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 80 small or 40 medium cookies
The original recipe had one teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger and cloves. I have increased the spices to suit our tastes, but you can cut them back if you want a less spicy cookie.
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses (not blackstrap)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar, for coating cookies
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Add baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and flour. Mix on low speed until well mixed.
Cover dough and chill for at least an hour, or up to three days. If chilling for longer than an hour, let dough rest on counter for about 30 minutes to soften just a bit.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Use a small cookie scoop (about 2-teaspoon capacity) or a spoon to scoop out small balls of dough. We like our cookies small, starting with a ball of dough smaller than a ping-pong ball. You can make larger balls, if you like.
Roll dough balls in granulated sugar and place on prepared baking sheets, leaving cookies room to spread.
Bake small cookies for 6-7 minutes, and larger cookies for 8-10 minutes. Cookies will puff up and then flatten. Take them out of the oven while they are still somewhat puffy, but almost set, if you like softer cookies. Bake them a minute or two longer, or until they flatten more, for crispier cookies.
Remove cookies to racks to cool. Store in an airtight container for several days, or freezer for longer storage. Individual cookies thaw in just a few minutes (ask me how I know!).