Friday, December 3, 2010

Chez Panisse Gingersnaps

As far as cookies go, this is one of those thin, light, crisp cookies that always provides that really satisfying bite when the mood strikes for something little, something full of flavor and something not too sweet. These are not hit-you-over-the-head ginger cookies, which are also most certainly necessary when you want to have a bracing bolt of spice bursting in your mouth, awakening every available neuron. No, this one is delicate and soothing for those days when you just want to invite a slight tap on the shoulder. It has a nice sophisticated combination of cinnamon, ginger and black pepper. It’s a cookie that was made at Chez Panisse for years and it’s a really delicious recipe to have in your file. To me, it is the quintessentially modern gingersnap: spare, lean and snappy.

You mix the dough, form it into a rectangle block, wrap it tightly in plastic and freeze it. You take it out and slice it into very thin wafers, top with a splotch of lovely raw sugar and bake them for just a few minutes until crisp. Really simple and really truly delicious.

Bench notes:
- This recipe makes a lot of cookies. I’ve never really kept count, so I’d probably guess about 60 or so. But the dough keeps in the freezer for quite a long time if well-wrapped and it’s hideously easy to pull it out and slice off however many cookies you’d like for the occasion. You won’t regret having them on hand.
- Use a sharp thin-bladed knife to cut these into thin cookies.
- This thin wafer style is the way they were served for years at Chez Panisse. The recipe in The Art of Simple Food instructs to divide the dough into two equal pieces using floured hands, forming into 2 logs. Then the dough is wrapped and refrigerated or frozen until firm. They are then sliced into 1/4” rounds, the tops dipped in sugar and baked for 10 (softer cookies) – 14 minutes (crisper cookies).

adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Makes about 60 cookies

2 C flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground black pepper
5 1/2 oz (11 T) butter @ room temperature
2/3 C sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 C mild molasses
1 egg @ room temperature
raw Hawaiian washed sugar, for garnishing

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and molasses. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix just until blended.

Lightly dust your hands with flour and shape into a rectangle bar about 3 1/2 “ wide x 7 3/4” long x 1 1/4” tall. Freeze until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the dough into slices between 1/8” – 1/4” thin and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment. Press a few sprinkles of raw sugar into the surface of each cookie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.


Sprinzette said...

I definitely want to try this - they look delicious.

Emily said...

Oh man, I love ginger-y cookies! All shapes, all sizes, all degrees of chewiness! Thanks for this one.

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

I always seem to start craving all things ginger-related right about now. It's the most wonderful time of the year. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe from Ms. Waters!

Michele | Cooking At Home said...

I can't wait to try these. The cold weather calls out for the comfort of ginger. I love that they keep in the freezer until baking.

Kathleen said...

MMMM yum ....!


Sean Grey Hanson said...

I've been watching food shows lately, but this time, I am now viewing food blogs.

diva said...

I love the coarse sugar on the top. Reminds me of those tins of Danish butter biscuits :) Lovely!

Nancy said...

My 4 year old son and I made them yesterday. Although we forgot to put in the ginger (doh!), these cookies were delicious!

Cilia said...

...add eggs one at a time, but the recipe seems to call for only one egg?

pastry studio said...

Cilia, thanks very much for catching my error. There is only 1 egg. I've amended the recipe.

Noobfoodie said...

Kids will really love this one, and I also love this,lol

haribo sweets said...

This ones a keeper. I want to try and make a different kind of gingersnap cookie recipe and I have to try this one.

Matt Jackson @ said...

I can't wait to try these! It's not that easy finding a good, crisp gingersnap recipe, it turns out... looking forward to this one!