The Ultimate Ginger Snap

June 6, 2010


Cookies, Dough & Desserts, Fall, Holidays, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter

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I am well aware that most people don’t make ginger snaps in 90 degree weather. But then, most people don’t have my recipe. And until recently, I didn’t know a darn thing about ginger snaps. I whole heartedly admit. Those I’ve made before have been paltry precursors to what I have since discovered: the ne plus ultra of ginger cookies. The Mark Wilson Snap.


So it is with great glee and delight that I have been heating up my Houston kitchen well past the 100 degree point, if only to keep my cookie jar replete with the crunch and zing of the perfect ginger snap. An that is what they’ve got, really: loads of ginger, loads of snap. They practically crinkle in half the second they touch your lips, they’re so explosively crisp.


Mark and I have been making these cookies for a few months, for many a catered affair we’ve done at Rodriguez Elementary as part of our Recipe for Success after school program. We’ve had many occasions to cook for large crowds, including one afternoon where Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to the Houston Department of Education. It was pretty neat, mixing batches of rosemary-infused lemonade and ginger snaps, knowing that our snack would go to someone with such clout.


The real gift, of course, was watching the kids make these (without licking the spoon!), but a close second was coming away with one of Mark’s most impressive recipes. Mark, I should say, was the head of the pastry department at Hotel Zaza’s Monarch, and is, quite possibly, the best baker I’ve ever met. But it doesn’t take a pro to make these:  even 9 year olds can whip up a professional looking batch. I even had a thought while watching Dominique roll one in sugar before gently pressing it with her thumb: if a 3rd grader can do these right, then there’s definitely hope for me after 3 eggnogs… which is often when I decide to make a few extra batches of Christmas cookies.


But I do these an injustice: they really shouldn’t be limited to cold weather holidays. In fact, I recently grilled some nectarines, drizzled them with honey, and set them beside a bit of whipped cream and crumbled ginger snap. It couldn’t have been more appropriate for the times. Another favorite: coffee ice cream with crumbled ginger snap. It sounds odd, but it’s a terrific pick me up. Oh, and let’s not forget them as the crust for a crumble or fruit pie. As with most baked goods, the only threat to success is my own anticipatory appetite. I tend to end up with about 2/3 of the recipe, because the batter just goes down so good…

The Ultimate Ginger Snap

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

Makes about 5 dozen

2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking soda
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground cloves
¼ t freshly ground pepper
½ t salt
¾ c unsalted butter
1 ¼ c packed, dark brown sucar
¼ c unsulfured molasses
1 ½ T finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg
¼ c granulated sugar
½ c crystallized ginger, cut into small, even pieces


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, molasses and ginger on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides when necessary.
Beat in the egg untol smooth and combined.
Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
Transfer dough to a bowl, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, positioning racks in the middle and lower third of the oven.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place granulated sugar in a shallow bowl.
Shape dough into balls the size of a teaspoon scoop.
Roll balls in sugar and place on baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.
Press balls with thumb, and place a piece of crystallized ginger in the center of each cookie.
Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, about 15-18 minutes, or until cookies are thoroughly brown—don’t worry if they look too dark… it means they’ll snap!

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