My mother doesn’t bake. She’s a great cook, but she avoids recipes and baking usually entails rather particular recipes, so she leaves the baking to my father and me.
She also has a well developed sweet tooth, so when she has a hankering for a baked good she drops oh so many not-so-subtle hints about what would be really wonderful for dad or me to make.
Her most requested cookie?
This one, the ultra-thin gingersnap.
Thin and crisp, the cookie practically melts in your mouth. Once you have one, it is almost impossible to stop eating them.
The original recipe was passed along from food blogger to food blogger years ago by a woman who has since stopped blogging. She claimed to have gotten the recipe from Chez Panisse, when she asked for it while interviewing for a job.
The two keys to this recipe I’ve found are 1) slicing the frozen cookie dough as thin as possible, the thinner the cookie, the crispier it will be, and 2) including the 1/8 of a teaspoon of finely ground black pepper that the recipe calls for.
Black pepper is an odd ingredient to add to a cookie, but you’ll just have to take it on faith that it works in this recipe. Unless you have an aversion to black pepper, be sure to include it.
In place of parchment I've started to use silicone baking sheets for cookie making; nothing sticks to these mats and clean-up is a breeze.
- 8 oz unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 small eggs or 1 1/2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 Beat butter, add sugar, add vanilla, eggs, add molasses: Beat the butter until soft; add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until fluffy. Add molasses and beat until well-mixed.
2 Whisk together dry ingredients: Vigorously whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, finely ground black pepper) in a bowl.
3 Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients: Add flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, 1/3 at a time. Mix only until the dry ingredients become incorporated.
4 Press into lined loaf pan, freeze: Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with plastic wrap, so that some hangs over the outsides. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Pack it tightly, and try to make the top as level as possible. Cover the dough with the plastic overhangs. Freeze until very firm, preferably overnight.
5 Thinly slice from frozen dough: Unwrap and remove dough from the pan. Slice brick into thin slices, no more than 1/8".
6 Bake: Working in batches, place thin slices on a parchment or a Silpat-lined sheet pan (space at least an inch apart) and bake at 350°F until the edges turn dark brown, 7-12 minutes, depending on how thinly you have sliced the dough. Check the oven for doneness at 7 minutes.