In 1998, I was invited by Pat Adrian, director of the Good Cook division of the Book of the Month Club, to judge the group's annual office baking contest. There were luscious cakes, pies and cookies of all types, but these gingersnaps were the hands-down winners. Julie Ellis-Clayton, the winner of the contest, was kind enough to share her recipe with me.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl, for finishing
- 2 or 3 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans covered with parchment or foil
Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl; stir well to mix. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together on medium speed the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes until very light, fluffy and whitened. Add the egg and continue beating until smooth. Lower speed and beat in half the dry ingredients, then the molasses. Stop the mixer and scrape down bowl and beater. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients. Remove bowl from mixer and use a large rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough. Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out 1-inch diameter pieces of dough. Roll into balls between the palms of your the hands, then roll in the sugar. Place the balls of dough on the prepared pans leaving about 3 inches all around each, to allow for spreading. Bake the cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they have spread, the surface has crackled, and they are firm to the touch. Slide the papers from the pans to racks. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or waxed paper in a tin or platic container witha tight-fitting cover.