Sometimes simple is better.
Is it just me or is there an undercurrent of cookie one-upmanship out there in the world? It seems that no one makes just a simple cookie anymore and instead there are a plethora of jacked-up cookie concoctions. It’s like a game of who can stuff the most ingredients a single batch of cookies. Nutella! White chocolate chips! Browned butter frosting! Nuts, nuts and more nuts! Peppermint candies, M&Ms and butterscotch chips! It’s amazing! The best cookie ever!
Seriously, it can get a little crazy.
Of course, like most things, it takes one to know one and I have often fallen prey to the whole ingredient overload frenzy. I think it probably stems from a desire to be original. There’s an insidious need to take that simple cookie to the next level and that’s where the trouble starts. In my mind it works out great after adding a little of this and a little of that. In reality? I usually end up with some weird blob so overwhelmed by my “creativity” that it’s lost all it’s original wonderfulness. Then I sit there and try and convince myself that it is amazing all the while knowing in my heart that it’s wrong. So wrong.
For the record, I’m not suggesting a campaign to stamp out creative cookies. Definitely not. However, I need some safe-guards in place so that I can still be creative, but when things go south I have a way to salvage the original concept so not all is lost. At the end of the day a well executed simple chocolate chip cookie is much better than a Frankenstein chocolate chip cookie bursting with a myriad of crazy ingredients that begs the question “what is that thing?”.
With Christmas right around the corner I set out to make gingersnaps and quickly felt that familiar tug to take it a step further by topping the finished cookies with a lemon glaze. I thought the glaze would be an interesting addition to this classic cookie and thought to myself, “A glaze! With lemon! And a little lemon zest! It will be amazing!”
I made a small batch of the glaze to start and topped only a few of the finished cookies to test it. It was an incredible exercise in restraint that paid off because the lemon glaze wasn’t that great. It’s sweetness completely masked the complex flavors of spice and molasses, which are what make a gingersnap so special.Since I only glazed a few it wasn’t a big deal. I still had a bunch of gingersnaps left unadorned ready to be dunked in a cup of coffee, which happens to be my favorite way to enjoy them.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup extra to top the cookies
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat both sugars together with the softened butter until fluffy. Add in the molasses, egg and vanilla extract. Beat together until combined. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together until combined. Add to the wet ingredients and mix together until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. At this point the dough will be very soft so cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at 30 minutes.
Once the dough is firm, pinch off enough to roll into 1 inch balls. Roll the balls in the extra sugar and line them up, about 2 inches apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once all the dough balls are made, lightly press down on each of them with the bottom of a glass.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes. I started checking on mine at the 10-minute mark. Pull them out of the oven once the top of the cookies feel dry and firm. If you want a crisper cookie leave them in the oven 1-2 minutes longer. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to wire racks to cool completely.