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Nailed It or Failed It: Soft ginger cookies

By Sarah Condley

Brad’s favorite cookie is ginger snaps (sometimes called ginger or molasses cookies). His daughter and my step-daughter, Sarah, makes the best ones ever. No matter how hard I try, the cookies never turn out like hers – they don’t taste the same, they don’t look the same and they don’t have the same chewiness.

I’ve tried her recipe several times, to no avail. I’ve tried different brands of molasses and sorghum, I’ve tried different brands of spices, but they aren’t the same. I’ve even made the cookies with her watching me and she said “I don’t know why yours are different.”

As I mentioned last week, our church was having a couple of potlucks. While looking through my dessert folder, I came across this recipe and decided I’d give this one a try in hopes they would turn out like Sarah’s.

On Saturday afternoon, I gathered all the ingredients for these cookies and got to work. I’ve tried several different brands of molasses so there are a few partial jars in the pantry. I decided to use some homemade sorghum that my friend and co-worker Courtney gave me. She got it from a family friend and knew she would not use it. It was really thick and sticky. It took a little time to get it out of the jar, but since it was like that I just knew this was going to be the key to a great cookie — one just like Sarah’s.

After mixing all of the ingredients, I poured some sugar (the additional sugar mentioned in the ingredients list) into a small bowl. I scooped out some dough and rolled it into a ball, then rolled each ball in the sugar.

I placed the cookies on a cookie sheet and popped them in the preheated oven. I set the timer for 10 minutes and removed them when it sounded. After letting them cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, I removed them to a cooling rack.

Brad was in the living room when I walked in with a cookie and asked if he wanted to try one. He said yes and we split it. He said he thought the needed to cook a little longer. When I put the second batch in the oven, I set the timer for 11 minutes.

I didn’t make the cookies as big as the recipe called for because I ended up with a third batch; I baked them for 12 minutes. I increased the time each time to see what would happen.

After the third batch of cookies, I still had a little bit of dough left, enough for four more cookies. I baked them for 12 minutes too.

Brad and I tried a cookie from the 11-minute batch and the 12-minute batch. We both liked the 12-minute batch best. They had risen more and were a bit more chewy and crisp. However, to my disappointment, they didn’t taste like Sarah’s. They were close, but still not the same.

When the cookies had completely cooled, I placed the remaining ones in a sealed container and they were ready for the next day’s potluck.

Most of the cookies were eaten at the potluck but I only got an opinion from one person, Sandra, who gave it a thumbs up as she was chewing.

Brad’s opinion on these cookies is really the one that matters. At this point, he’d rather have his daughter’s.

Though I nailed this recipe, I won’t hang on to it. It is a good cookie recipe and I wouldn’t hesitate to make the cookies again, but I’m still on my quest to find a recipe that turns out more like Sarah’s. In the meantime — she’s the ginger snap queen when comes to her daddy.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Additional sugar

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Roll into 1-1/2 inch balls, then roll in additional sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees until puffy and light browned, 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.  Yield 2-1/2 dozen.