gingersnaps; tuesdays with dorie

 this week, we tackled gingersnaps.  fitting choice given the season.  truth is, i love gingersnaps and gingerbread and will make either one at anytime in the year.  since gingersnaps are a favorite of mine, i was eager to try this recipe which was contributed by david blom and to see it, this is the link.

as always, i made a few changes to the recipe.  first of all, i very rarely use molasses.  how can that be you ask?  well, i live in the south and around here, we use sorghum.  so what’s the big deal about sorghum?  it tastes better than molasses and it is a pure product meaning that it is just sorghum syrup that is extracted from sorghum cane and cooked down.  no chemicals, no refining, nothing, just sorghum.  not familiar with sorghum, read a few facts about it here.  and for those of you with a diy fetish, here is an interesting article on just that, making your own sorghum.

 what other changes did i make to the recipe?  well, for starters, i added a whole lot more spices.  i quadrupled the ginger, doubled the cinnamon and added garam masala, cardamom and cloves to make a nice and spicy dough.  then i reduced the water a bit; i was making a batch that was 4 times the recipe and it would have called for 6 tablespoons of water but i only added 5.  thinking back now, i would reduce it even more, maybe just use 4.

when i roll out cookies, i use wooden dowels that are the exact thickness that i need to help guide my rolling pin and keep it all consistent.  i also brush off as much of the excess flour as possible.

my collection of cookie cutters is on the large side.  in the bins are several hundred shapes to choose from.  since these cookies are going to a christmas party, i chose a holly leaf, it was 2″x3″ and with a batch of dough that was quadrupled, i ended up with just over 60 cookies.

 the recipe was a bit unusual for gingersnaps.  it did not include any eggs and when the cookies were cut, they got a glaze made of molasses and water before going into the oven.  the recipe for the glaze could easily be cut back, i had a lot left over but again, i did multiply the recipe.  if you do the same, cut the glaze in half.  if you just prepare the recipe as it is, make the full amount.

 and just because i could, i gave the cookies a sprinkle of sanding sugar before they went into the oven.  no such thing as too much sparkle on a gingersnap.

the cookies took longer in the oven than the recipe called for.  a lot longer and about double the time if not a little longer.  considering that i made them only slightly larger than the recipe called for and that i baked them at 350 rather than 325 (because i didn’t read that…), i was surprised at how long they took to become “almost firm” in the oven.  the other surprising fact is that i had also reduced the water.  the cookies were a little on the soft and flexible side and once they finally baked, they were really hard once they cooled off.  those with sensitive teeth may want to dunk them first…

 perfect with a cup of hot tea or coffee, feel free to do just that, dunk them if you like.

 after a hectic couple of days at work, it was nice to come home and bake a batch of cookies.  it was well worth the time i spent that afternoon, almost comforting.

 as the afternoon sun slowly sank, the light changed in the room.  it seems that all of the classes and workshops i have taken suddenly came together in one quiet afternoon in my dining room.  the light became the focus, not the cookies.

 the magic hour.  you can see the shift in the light by looking at the top left corner of the photo.  suddenly, the pink/gold of sunset was creeping in.

this light is fleeting.  you must be just as quick to capture it.  here it glides across the pan from left to right.

 and now, it has moved.  so quickly the color changes.  
 and changes still.  the mood of the photo has changed as well.  
would i make these again?  meh…maybe.  with changes.  less water, no glaze.  love that they are made without eggs and could easily be a vegan recipe by switching the butter to a non-hydrogenated shortening, a vegetarian butter or coconut oil.  honestly, i have a wonderful gingerbread recipe and a damn good ginger snap recipe already so the likelihood is slim.  but that vegan factor will keep them on the maybe list.  to see how the other tuesdays with dorie bakers did with this recipe, visit the website.  to bake along with us, pick up a copy of the book and, register at the website and start baking!  the book can be found easily, it is still in print.  try bookstores, online, your local library or a friend.  whatever you do, just bake…

linzer cookies with fig jam

the whole repurposing craze has caught me.  i just love it-the idea of turning useless stuff into a money maker; i’m all about that.  honestly, i do like the idea of using things in a new or unusual way.  we hung a wire window planter box up on our kitchen wall.  ok, not exciting.  except we hung it upside down and use hooks to hang pots from it.  fascinating stuff, i know!  what does it have to do with cookies?  nothing.  it was the repurposing thing, i went off track here…
so, back to the story, as a tuesdays with dorie baker, i often make things i would not generally make for just the two of us.  it is often way more than we can eat.  sometimes i cut the recipe in half or freeze half.  for a recent baking challenge, we made a crostata.  it called for a rich, short crust that was loaded with almonds and sesame seeds.  since i wanted to make a smaller tart, i had a big ball of dough leftover and i froze it for another day.  a recent get together of local food bloggers seemed like a good time to use it since it would make wonderful bite sized linzer cookies.  read all about the tart and see the recipes by clicking here.

cookie cutters are something i collect; i have hundreds of them.  literally, hundreds.  this is an inexpensive set that i found while wandering through a local tjmaxx/homegoods store.  they are double sided so you can use the straight side or the fluted side-10 cutters for the price of 5!

to roll out little bite sized sandwich cookies, i used a pair of thin wooden dowels.  that is my secret for a consistent thickness and by choosing different sized dowels, i get the dough rolled out to the necessary thickness every time.

to cut the window of the top cookie in the sandwich, i pulled out a different set of cutters.  this is a larger set of straight circles made of metal.

 a quick sprinkle of sanding sugar gave the cookies a nice sparkle.

a small dollop of homemade fig jam was the perfect choice of filling for a dough studded with almonds and sesame seeds.

 finishing the sandwiches with the top cookie

all ready to go on my fancy vintage pressed aluminum serving tray-a treat fit for serving to food bloggers!  and by the way, i came home with an empty tray…

reliving my childhood

hard to believe it is already the second week of january.  i had hoped to post this sooner but my life got in the way!  when i was growing up, we would go to my uncles on christmas day every year.  all of the family would gather for an informal dinner followed by dessert and then presents.  the best part of that celebration were the cookies that my aunt and uncle would make for us.  one of my favorites was always the wheat cookies.  a rolled sugar cookie with whole wheat flour, they were very simply decorated with just a piece of glaceed cherry.  so simple yet so memorable.  this year, i made a batch with my younger daughter-i rolled and cut, she applied the cherries.

 the original recipe, my mother says it is in my uncle’s handwriting and that she added the note not to use butter.  heed the warning-i tried and it ended up in the trash!  i would also recommend leaving out 1-2 tablespoons of each of the flours and adding them only if needed.  mine didn’t need them and rolled out nicely.

apply the cherries before baking and they will be attached to the cookies, just be sure to blot them if they are wet with syrup or it will leave dark brown splotches on the top of the cookie.

this li’l piggie is rollin’ in dough

if betty ford has a clinic for bakers addicted to pans and cutters, i probably should take a vacation there. my collection of bundt pans is growing and so is my collection of cookie cutters. lately, i have limited myself to large copper cutters but even so, i have way too many if you ask my husband.
they live in coke crates and i have no idea how many i have. i do know that i tend to gravitate towards unusual shapes. so if you paw through them, you will find a spider web, a ladies dress, several different fish and a selection of chanukah cutters. this week i found myself doing just that, pawing through the heap to pick out a cutter to test my sugar cookie recipe with.
and here it is, a little piggy, coming or going-you decide. in the past, i have used him at the cafe since we have a special place in our bellies, i mean hearts, for pigs. have you looked at the weather vanes on top of the barn? sometimes i give them a tail and serve pig butt cookies and other times, i give them chocolate chip eyes.
in the last 25 years, i have rolled out tons of sugar cookies, literally. as a result, i have come up with a fool proof method for rolling out dough.
here it is; dowels that are the same diameter as the desired thickness of the dough, a big rolling pin, a soft brush and flour-lots of flour.
liberally flour the rolling surface, place the dowels and dough on it and flour the dough. then start rolling. Lift the dough once or twice as you go and make sure there is plenty of flour under it.
brush off as much of the excess flour as you can and cut the cookies as close together as possible.
before baking them, dress them up a bit if you like. i didn’t have any plain pink crystals left because they had all been turned into this rainbow blend so we have blind bobtail rainbow piggies. as long as i am not too busy, hams & jams gets sugar cookies to sell and this week they are pink tulips so stop by and get some while they last!!!