The way I see it, there are many different schools of thought when it comes to gingerbread cookies. Snaps or soft? Iced or sugar-coated? Buttercream or glaze? And while I’m definitely not the authority on this subject, I absolutely have opinions (strong ones).
Let’s start with the question of thickness. On this issue (and a number of food-related issues, actually), my husband and I are a house divided. I prefer my gingerbread cookies to be thin, crisp snaps. I want them to have a crunch. I want to dip them in a mug of hot coffee. I want them to snap when I pop them in my mouth. My husband, Dan, wants the opposite experience. He wants big, fluffy, soft, chewy gingerbread cookies. We are at complete odds, and while I try to accommodate his wishes, I’m the one baking them, so I expect you know how things end up in our house.
Unfortunately, we’re also divided on the second gingerbread question. The 2GQ, if you will: the issue of iced or sugar-coated. I will take my snaps dipped in ground ginger and sugar crystals (or just plain because that is also delightful), thank you very much. Dan prefers them iced, and to answer 3GQ, he is a fan of a glaze, not buttercream. I would try to argue the merits of both options, but I think that both are wrong; Therefore, I don’t know that my arguments would be convincing.
The thing is, however, that when it comes to cookies, especially gingerbread cookies, we’re all a little bit wrong — and we’re all completely right. Because no matter how you like them — snaps or chewy; plain, sugar-coated, or iced; buttercream or glaze — they’re delicious. They smell like winter, they’re perfectly gingery, and they’re the treat of the season.
When it comes to gingerbread cookies, despite our differences, we’re all winners. I’m glad we had this talk.
Classic Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 egg 1/2 cup molasses 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoons ground ginger 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg. Beat in molasses and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix all remaining ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix well.
Divide dough and wrap in plastic. Let chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Roll out on parchment paper until dough is ¼-inch thick. (For snaps, roll dough out as thin as possible.) Place dough in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Heat oven to 350º. Cut into desired shapes. Bake 8-10 minutes for soft cookies, 20 minutes for crunchy. Let cool on a wire rack.
To commemorate our 90th anniversary, we’ve compiled a time line that highlights the stories, contributors, and themes that have shaped this magazine — and your view of the Old North State — using nine decades of our own words.