Since the weather’s gone wintry, I’ve been in the mood to bake. Not just bread, but cookies, cakes, and pies – sweet and savory (I’ve got a leek and gruyere quiche in the oven at this very moment). This being the holidays, gingerbread was high on the agenda. But as much as I love the look of gingerbread christmas tree ornaments, I wanted something for grownups – something with intense flavors and strong spices, something too tasty to leave on the Christmas tree.
Enter Alice Water’s gingersnaps. Ms. Water’s is a “chef, restaurateur, activist, and humanitarian”. She is also owner of Chez Panisse, the world-renowned restaurant in Berkeley. Her book, The Art of Simple Food, includes a recipe for gingersnaps that David Lebovitz (also an alum of Chez Panisse) generously shared on his blog in 2007. The recipe came to my attention when it was recently noted on The Kitchn’s Christmas Cookie Roundup. And so, I went out and bought some butter.
These gingersnaps were my first exposure to the concept of “refrigerator cookies”, which basically means you make a log of dough that you can store in the fridge or freezer from which you can slice and bake cookies as you need them. I must say, it feels really good knowing I have a blob of dough in my fridge that I can quickly turn into fresh-baked cookies whenever the mood strikes (I think the mood is striking right now). You can also roll the dough out and cut it into shapes, a little more challenging but way more festive.
A word of advice: the thickness of the cookie will have a dramatic effect on their taste experience. Thinner cookies will be crispy all the way through, while thicker cookies (about 1cm, as David Lebovitz suggests) are crispy on the outside with a nice bit of chew on the inside – that’s my preference, too.