Sunday, January 25, 2015
I hardly knew what to expect from these gingersnaps. I've never baked gingersnaps; in fact, my familiarity with them is limited to the boxes of Nabisco gingersnaps she sometimes brought home for a treat. I wasn't that enchanted with them, preferring my great-grandmother's sugar cookies, or, if they had to be storebought, frosted date and nut cookies or Nilla wafers. Gingersnaps made me think of pioneers, of hardy women who had to bake with blackstrap molasses and lard instead of white sugar and butter, the way God intended.
I could tell by the ingredient list that these weren't going to be dark brown, like the gingersnaps I knew, because there was no molasses--just golden syrup and brown sugar, neither of which was likely to color the cookies a dark brown. (I didn't have golden baker's sugar or caster sugar, but made do with brown and superfine sugars). In retrospect, I wish I'd used a darker sugar.
These cookies were a snap to put together (yuk, yuk), and when I was done amusing myself with that lame pun, I started to wonder why they were called gingersnaps: ease of preparation? texture? flavor? Since the internet is never wrong, I turned there for an answer. According to eHow, whose veracity I cannot vouch for, a gingersnap is a ginger "biscuit" (cookie for the Yanks among us) which is called a snap because they're very crispy and make a snapping sound when broken.
I was very puzzled by these cookies. They looked right, or at least they didn't look wrong, but they were soft, definitely not crispy, and definitely not dark. I read the description again: "cracks will appear on the surface and the cookies should be golden brown." Looks good. The cookies "will firm up as they cool, resulting in a crispy surface and soft, chewy interior." That pretty much described them, but they assuredly do not make a snapping sound when broken, more of a soft "whoosh." I can see that ginger whooshes might not catch on.
I taste them, still unsure what to expect. Hmmm. Interesting. A whisper of ginger flavor, but definitely not in your face. In fact, the flavors are quite subtle. I go back and look at the recipe, suddenly noticing that the 3 grams of ground ginger that I used really wasn't very much. I weighed it out again. 3 grams is about 1 teaspoon, and most definitely not 3 teaspoons.
I send a quick email to Woody, who first tells me that he's sure they didn't have the ground ginger in grams. I tell him they do have it in grams. He gets the book, and tells me cheerfully, "well, that's a mistake." They're not duds, exactly--they have a nice flavor and the golden syrup adds some complexity. Still, you'd never call it a spice cookie, although that's what it is, and I'm pretty sure my version is not what it's meant to taste like.
Now I can't wait to see the pictures and read the descriptions of the other Alpha Bakers' versions of gingersnaps. I hope that no one but me puts in 3 grams of ginger.