Last year, my dear friend, Becca, and I embarked on a journey to bake Christmas cookies. Twelve different Christmas cookies over twelve days. We kind of failed at completing the project in 12 days (we didn’t actually finish until January), but we did do a whole lot of baking (and a whole lot of eating). We chronicled this journey on our ol’ shared baking blog, Eat it up with Salsa and Gilmore. You can read all about last year’s baking adventures there.
This year, we both have blogs of our own, so we decided to divide this baking project between the two. So Food Network, we accept your challenge, and we will bake 12 types of cookies. We’re already a bit behind, but we will prevail. Like last year, we will share our successes and failures (you may see a big ol’ failure in this particular post).
Becca started us off with Ina Garten’s shortbread cookies, which you can read about on the Campbell Family blog. I took Alton Brown’s ginger snap recipe. Let me start by saying that before today, I was not a big fan of Alton Brown. And after this baking catastrophe, my feelings remain the same.
You see, our friend at the Food Network requested 3 different types of ginger for this recipe. This did not thrill this baker on a budget. But I pressed on and bought all of the crazy ingredients today. Then I came home and got super pumped about baking awesome cookies while watching Love Actually (my absolute favorite Christmas-time movie). Don’t worry. I did take a brief break from baking to dance along with Hugh Grant to The Pointer Sisters (Jump! For my love!).
So, our friend Alton, the scientist, lists his measurements in ounces, rather than cups. Luckily, I had a measuring cup with ounces listed, but this briefly inspired panic in my I-haven’t-done-math-since-high-school brain. Still, when he asks for 3 ounces of molasses, by weight, that’s where we ran into a problem. The smallest jar of molasses we could find was 12 ounces (whether this referred to volume or weight, we have no idea). So I just guesstimated 3 ounces of that. Apparently I was a little off. When I checked on my cookies in the oven, they had spread from their cute little rounded tablespoon shapes to one enormous lake of ginger snap. And there was no ‘snap’ to these cookies. They were the consistency of one of those weird fruit strips. We think that I added too much molasses, which weighed down the batter and caused them to ooze, rather than puff. I attempted to cut the resulting cookie into small squares, but the cookie was too bendy (is that a real word?) to cut. So I just ripped them up.
As far as the flavor goes, these didn’t taste bad. I wouldn’t say they tasted great, but I’m not really sure what a ginger snap is supposed to taste like. In the end, my poor cookies (and all that money spent on ginger varieties) landed in the trash can. Total bummer. But a good learning experience. When dealing with a recipe from a scientist, always precisely measure your molasses.
If any of you attempt to bake these and come out with better results, please let me know!
Alton Brown’s Ginger Snaps
recipe from Food Network
9 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 ounces dark brown sugar
5 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces molasses, by weight
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
4 ounces finely chopped candied ginger
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and salt.
Place the brown sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the molasses, egg and fresh ginger and beat on medium for 1 minute. Add the crystallized ginger and using a rubber spatula, stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined.
Drop the dough onto a parchment-lined pan approximately 2 inches apart. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12 minutes for slightly chewy cookies or 15 minutes for more crisp cookies. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired, and allow the cookies to stay on the sheet pan for 30 seconds before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Good luck, bakers.