No Cookie Plate Is Complete Without Gingersnaps
There are basically two types of cookies: drop cookies and refrigerator cookies. Drop cookies are usually made just before baking. In fact, they can (and should) be made as the oven is preheating. They are soft, buttery, sweet, and, because they have height, perfect for containing other ingredients. The chocolate chip is the paradigm of drop cookies.
To adjust any drop cookie recipe to your personal taste, remember this: Butter makes cookies tender, flour makes them cakey, shorter cooking times (within reason, of course) produce chewier cookies, and longer ones make them crispier.
Refrigerator cookies — also called rolled cookies, because they can be rolled out and cut with a lightly floured cookie cutter (or that old standby, a glass) — must be made in advance. This can be an advantage, because you can make the dough days ahead and bake them whenever you get the urge (it’s a disadvantage when you don’t have the dough but you want cookies, like right now). You can also freeze the dough, and need not defrost it before baking, as long as you’re happy to slice it instead of rolling and cutting it into shapes.
Here’s a refrigerator cookie that borders on savory:
Super Crisp Gingersnaps
Makes: 4 to 5 dozen
Time: About 40 minutes, plus time to chill
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses until smooth. Mix the baking soda with 2 tablespoons hot water and beat into the dough.
Combine the flour, spices, and salt in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the dough and beat well. Shape the dough into 2 long logs, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight (or wrap very well in plastic and freeze indefinitely; you can proceed to Step 3 with still-frozen dough).
Heat the oven to 350°F. Slice the cookies as thin as you can and bake on ungreased baking sheets until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to several days.