The holiday season brings a wave of feel-good anticipation for bakers everywhere: new recipes to try, old favorites to surprise loved ones with, the satisfaction of seeing row upon row of delicious cookie baked to perfection. It’s a baker’s dream, really. After months of hearing my future father-in-law discuss (oh, so subtly) how much he loves gingersnaps, I decided to venture into uncharted territory by trying this warm, spicy classic that is perfect for pairing with a cool fall morning and hot cup of coffee.
Gingersnaps are traditionally thin and brittle. Getting that signature “snap” involves using white granulated sugar and no egg yolk; both tricks prevent the cookie from puffing up into a soft, pillowy cookie. But rules are made to be broken, right? Plus, my family loves their cookies soft and chewy, so this recipe makes a deliciously risen and warm ginger cookie that has the classic cracks and ridges of a gingersnap with none of the crunchiness. Keep reading after the recipe for some tips to follow if you’re a gingersnap purist and looking for a firm, crunchy cookie.
Another way this recipe varies from tradition is the spice level. Cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne powder are regular players in my kitchen regardless of whether the dish is savory or sweet, and I wanted to give these fluffy gingersnaps a nice, slow burn by incorporating all three spices (plus a little extra). To add an extra spicy kick, this recipe utilizes finely chopped jalapeno seeds -- an easy-to-omit option for those who prefer their food to not bite back quite as much.
I’m also using a gluten-free flour blend and coconut sugar for my all-organic, all-the-time sister-in-law. Both the flour and sugar can be substituted with your regular favorites in a 1:1 ratio. Other than those few differences, these gingersnaps are similar to anything else you’ll find on the internet: a simple and quick recipe that requires no extra chilling of the dough, flouring cookie cutters, or complicated baking processes. Just mix, roll, plop, and bake. Let’s get started.
Preheat your oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and spices and set aside.
Cream the butter in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugars and molasses and mix until fully combined. Next, add your egg whites in two batches, making sure to fully combine before adding the second batch. Add your jalapeno seeds and mix. Finally, add dry ingredients in small batches, fully incorporating after each addition.
Pour a few tablespoons of sugar onto a small plate or dish. (Keep the sugar close by as you’ll probably need to add some extra before the entire batch is complete.)
Roll your cookie dough into approx. 1” in balls and roll in sugar until lightly coated. Set on the parchment-lined sheet pans, leaving 1” of space between cookies.
Bake until browned, approximately 8 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheet pans for 5-10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.
For an extra-snappy gingersnap, you’ll want to swap out the three basics: flour, butter, and sugar. Due to its higher protein content compared to other types of flours (like the Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend I used), all-purpose flour creates a darker brown and crispier cookie. You’ll also want to go with granulated white sugar, which has less moisture than coconut or brown sugar. Because butter is bringing milk solids and water to the formula, you can achieve a crispier cookie by substituting the butter with vegetable shortening. It’s basic cookie chemistry: you’re looking to remove ingredients that bring excess moisture to the finished product.
These gingersnaps will have a subtle, slow burn that shows up two or three bites into the cookie. Adding a confectioner’s sugar glaze can help mask the heat to keep the gingersnaps sweeter than spicy. A sweet sugar glaze is also a great way to experiment with higher levels of heat (double or triple the cayenne, anyone?) without completely overwhelming the senses. Unless that’s what you’re going for, in which case, more power to you.