Let's start the discussion today with a question: flour sifting. Why? Why? I'm all ears. Seriously, does separating the wee particles of flour moments before combining them back together make a whit of difference in flavor?
As you can guess, this post is an opportunity for me to nitpick. Or, more diplomatically, it's a break-down of what it takes to modernize an old-school recipe (photo below). I'm taking my favorite Christmas cookie recipe, which came from my grandma. She of the eight children and the perpetually filled cookie jar. With all due respect for my dear granny, her ingredients needed tweaking.
Here are four easy changes which result in a new version of really yummy holiday favorite -- soft ginger cookies. (Also, that equally delicious cookie stand is for sale in the shop.)
Is it even real food? I did a little research and it was "invented" in 1907 by two men -- one a soapmaker and one a candlemaker. Good to know in case of a zombie apocalypse but there's not a chance that I'm willingly consuming it. First off, it's too white for its own good. Unearthly white. Second, it doesn't go bad. Third, it doesn't require refrigeration. Blech. Butter please. Unsalted preferably.
New and Better Salt
It's just science. When little rock crystals of French salt meet American tastebuds, the reaction is the equivalent of Carla Bruni and Bill Clinton locked up together in a dark closet. You get the picture.
Ginger Has Come a Long Way, Baby
In this day and age of a shrinking world, we reap the culinary benefit of better spices. I've been making these cookies for well nigh thirty years, and they get better and better each year for one reason: superb ginger. Even the cheaper jars in the grocery store are so much better than what used to pass for ginger.
My grandma made the cookies with multi-colored nonpareils. They're just fine. But the white ones are so dang pretty. Like the driven snow. Like the color of my minivan. Anyway, the white beads of sugar look so elegantly festive atop the brown cookie. But kids do love those rainbow ones.
Mabel Shauber's Crinkly Ginger Cookies
Oven at 325 degrees
In a cuisinart, pulse together until smooth:
1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
In a large mixing bowl, combine well until fully incorporated:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground clove
Empty contents of cuisinart into the mixing bowl and stir until well-blended. This requires arm strength. You're burning calories, so make sure you tell your FitBit.
Pour nonpareils into a saucer. Using a teaspoon, shape dough into little balls and dip into the nonpareils. Place on cookie sheet sugar side up and gently press down a little bit with the heel of your hand. Don't flatten them! Bake for 10 minutes. Let sit for two minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cookies should be soft and light brown in color with some "crinkling" on the surface.
Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear what you bake for the holidays. Or if you roll your eyes at recipes with Crisco. Let's eye-roll together! Join me every Friday morning for a smile to start your weekend.