Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Midweek Roundup: The Little Gingersnap that Could

January 28, 2015

Photograph by Jenn (Knitty Baker)

What is it that this little gingersnap could do, you ask?  Well, for one thing, it could make a cookie lover out of Raymond.  I know that Raymond has a reputation for never saying what he believes, but he was forthright in his opinion about the cost-benefit ratio of cookies.  Too much putzy work, too little flavor.  But he liked these little gingersnaps because they have just the right amount of ginger.

What these cookies could do for Glori is NOT be one of "those nasty, dark, and hard pieces of yuck that you buy in a bag at the grocery store."  Granted, those are pretty low standards, but these ended up being "really, really good."  That is a higher standard than just a general lack of nastiness.

There was some disagreement about whether there was enough ginger flavor.  For Patricia, like Raymond, it was "spot on."  (By the way, Patricia also noticed the inconsistency between the weight and measurement of powdered ginger, but she had enough sense to ask about it).  And for Jen, there was "just the right amount of heat."  (Welcome back, ECL!)

Catherine thought the ginger flavor was pronounced, even "quite strong," with a "generous three teaspoons giving them a bit of residual spicy heat.  She made the British version, with real caster sugar (Billington's, no less--doesn't that sound posh?) and with self-raising flour.

Tony, on the other hand, wanted "more heat" and "more spice," so he devised a variation that added not only some fresh lemon zest but also some dried horseradish, 5-Spice Powder, and fresh ginger.  Um.  That is a lot of extra heat.  And it perhaps takes the cookies out of the gingersnap category and into the Blow a Hole in Your Head category.

Nancy's ideal gingersnap does not reach the Tony level of multi-level hotness, but she prefers a gingersnap with "more bite,"--her sister-in-law's "Chinese gingersnaps" with "lots of grated fresh ginger and white pepper" come to mind.  Well, of course they didn't come to my mind because I never heard of them, but now they do because that mixture sounds very intriguing.

For Nicola, the thing that these cookies could do is be made, from "start to finish, including washing up, in just over an hour," although she admits, perhaps, to a possible bit of cheating about "the advised resting times."  There is very little resting at the Blackler household, and if parents aren't allowed to rest, why should cookies have it any better?

Alice thought the gingersnaps were just about perfect, but could use an infusion of fresh ginger, and so she made that addition--just about a teaspoon of it.  Her "British husband declared them very authentic."  Kristina's husband, although not British, thought the cookies were "wonderful," and was very grateful that Kristina didn't take them to work.  Kristina is adding them to her regular cookie rotation.  I didn't know there was such a thing--hands up if you want to live in a household that has a cookie rotation!

Speaking of husbands, which we seem to be doing, Michele's blog contains a lovely tribute to hers: "my soul mate, my taste tester, and my deux ex machina....  Plus, he's very handsome and lots of fun to be around."  Her blog was so romantic that I almost forgot to pay attention to the cookies, so I wouldn't have been able to tell you that she broke her beater blade while making a quadruple (yes!) batch of cookies.

And let us not speak only of husbands, but also of seven-year-old sons, who say to their mother (Jill), "Thumbs up Mom, but something in them made my mouth feel on fire."  It's a good thing he didn't taste the Chef Tony horseradish version.

Mendy used all fresh ginger and none of the powdered stuff; although he used 5 teaspoons, he thought he ended up "toning down" the ginger flavor, albeit unintentionally.  "A fairly decent cookie," says Mendy.  This may not be the highest praise in the world, but this little gingersnap is undeterred.

What could the gingersnaps do for Jenn?  Well, the recipe could be divided in thirds, for one thing, and she will tell you how to do it, if you're ever in the market for 10 gingersnaps.  Jenn swears that all the math involved in dividing recipes by odd numbers and also making changes for high altitude baking is a snap.  Anyone can do it, she says, and she should know because she almost failed high school chemistry.  (She doesn't say how she did in math, but I'm betting she didn't fail it).

Faithy thought this was the cookie that could wreak havoc with your dentures.  She first thought her cookies tasted like raw cookie dough, so she baked them longer.  Perfect!  After another 24 hours, they turned hard as rocks, and denture-threatening.  Still, her family loved her little rock cookies.  (Faithy is in awe of how big American cookies are). In fact, one of Vicki's tasters (her brother) thought they taste like "Stone Cookies" from Hawaii, "which truly are named after a rock."  But they are soft and non rock-like.  While reading Vicki's blog, I discovered that she is seriously in love with Mr. Lyle, who is really Mr. Eastick, who, fortunately for Vicki's marriage, is dead.  (But who was quite dashing in real life.)  I also discovered that Lyle's Golden Syrup is the "world's oldest branded product."  Older than Kleenex!  Older than Carter's Little Liver Pills!

Maybe Hanaa said it best:  these cookies are "confusing."  They are not the gingersnaps that we Americans grew up on.  They are pale, anemic-looking things that resemble peanut butter cookies more than the molasses-laden gingersnaps our mothers bought at the grocery store.  If you call them "ginger cookies" instead of "gingersnaps," your tasters will be less bewildered.  To those of you who are Brits or their close relatives, these probably just seem like classic gingersnaps.  Unless you add horseradish.

Next week:  You might wonder why a Swedish apricot walnut bread is being used to celebrate Tu be'shvat.  We are nothing if not ecumenical in this group, and so it is not surprising that we mark Jewish Arbor Day (also known as Tu B'Shevat, or the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat).  It is a day marked by planting trees, eating things that grow on trees, and also eating wheat, even though it doesn't.  But there are two kinds of flour in this bread, and apricots and walnuts grow on trees, so I hoped this would be appropriate.  It's a fine bread, even if you are not planning to plant a tree in the near future.

And the following week:  our first Catch-Up Week.  If you've been feeling sick, or have been on vacation or on a business trip and you've missed a week, you can catch up!  Or if you don't like the way your first stab at something turned out, you can try again.  Or if you loved the way something turned out and want the joy of eating it again, go ahead.  It's your week.


  1. Nice work, team. I swear I'll blog under the deadline soon! I'm having computer issues--the baking is happening.

  2. congrats Jenn on photo of the week! thanks for welcoming me back Marie--it is good to be baking again. Carter's Liver Pills--haha!

  3. Nice recap! Jenn congrats on being the feature baker

  4. I always enjoy reading your recaps Marie! Congrats Jen for having photo featured! LOL! Jenn must be very good in Maths!

  5. Great recap! I love the humor you find in all of our posts. Congrats to Jenn!

  6. No mention of whooshes? Don't forget to put yourself in the roundup!

  7. Great fun to read the roundup, Marie! Thanks for all you do. Looking forward to Swedish Apricot Walnut bread.

  8. Great round up Marie. I love the different titles you come up with for the mid week roundup. Thanks for featuring my photo!

    I'm also looking forward to the Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread. Yum!

  9. ב''ה

    Not sure what arbor day is but the 15th of Shvat is a New Year of the trees and Apricots and Walnuts are totally appropriate. Good choice Marie!

  10. Entertaining as ever. Great photo choice. Congrat's Jenn!

  11. Way to go Jenn! Great post, as always, Marie.

  12. thank you Marie for, as usual, a terrifically detailed roundup. it was especially appreciated because this was a harrowing week with Apple having screwed up my computer order and wasted hours and hours of time so although i looked at every posting, i did not catch some of the great details mentioned here.
    Jenn: i managed to fail one semester of hs chemistry. for one thing, i couldn't believe i really had to memorize all those valences!
    i can't remember who mentioned BACKBLAZE--your name started with an M--but it convinced me to go for it so when i finally do get the new computer i will sign up. please let me know if you are happy with it on a MAC. all the reviews sound great. since it's supposed to take up to 30 days to back up everything--and i have close to 200 GB--i'm hoping to get it started before we leave for Dallas this coming thursday.

    1. Rose, it's hard to believe you failing at anything! But yes those valences was horrible.

      Monica was the one who mentioned BACKBLAZE. Good luck with your PC, hopefully everything will be all well in the end.

    2. thanks Jenn! usually when i think i remember the first initial of a name i have it wrong! i thought it was Monica.

    3. My favorite knitting designer is going to be in Ft. Worth, TX next Monday. How funny to think that my favorite people from my 2 hobbies (baking and knitting) are going to be in the same state!