This past summer, I attended a food writing workshop on Madeline Island (Swoon! I know!!), and since then, I’ve been devouring books, especially memoirs, to better develop my “taste” for literature. The Book of Delights was an exciting discovery. Author Ross Gay refers to his work as “essayettes” - I found I loved the style for its digestibility, and became in awe of a writer’s ability to say so much with so little.
Which, then, brought me to Beth Ann Fennelly’s micro-memoir, Heating & Cooling. I mean, a micro-memoir, how cool is that term?!? And the book, it blew me away. Some of her remembrances are only a sentence, some a couple of pages. But Fennelly’s skill at distilling her astute observations into clever, succinct, evocative stories, took my breath away at times (and, if I’m being completely honest, made me just a tad bit envious most of the time!). Beth Ann is officially a poet - she was the Poet Laureate of Mississippi at that! - and Heating & Cooling reads like beautiful poetry.
Which is all a very long-winded way of getting to this cookie recipe! In one of her stories (on page 46 to be exact), Beth Ann mentions that she makes a mean cookie. So I thought to myself, how cool would it be if she shared her recipe with Bake it Write? So I reached out, she immediately got back to me, and within days her recipe was up on this site.
Now I love her even more!
As Beth Ann shares in her own words:
In the piece "Heating and Cooling," I brag about several cookies that I'm good at making, and end with, "Sweet Jesus, my gingersnaps."
I love to make cookies that need to be rolled into balls before baking, because I recruit my kids to help and it's perhaps the only kitchen job they love. I do find my helpers effect the yield, however. I'll note that these cookies are INSANE warm. So I like to make a double batch and freeze the dough after it's in the sugar-coated-ball stage. Then at any point I can pull out some of these dough balls from the freezer and have warm cookies as soon as they thaw. The only danger there is seeing my sons try to steal a ball of frozen dough and commence to gnawing it like a squirrel gnaws an acorn.Print
The recipe was originally given to me by Memphis novelist Cary Holliday.
These aren't fancy Christmas cookies but their flavor profile is fabulous around the holidays.
The best beverage pairing is a glass of cold milk or a Guinness beer.
Makes 3 dozen. Fewer if you have "helpers" in the kitchen.
- Beth Ann Fennelly
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (240 g)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp fine-grain salt (like table or sea salt)
- 1 cup sugar (200 g)
- ¾ cup shortening (144 g)
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- Granulated sugar, for coating
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then, with the mixer on low speed, add in the flour mixture and blend until just combined.
- Roll the dough into balls and coat with sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and lightly flatten with a fork or the bottom of a small glass. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the centers appear set. Let cookies cool on the pan for ~3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- You may think one full teaspoon of cloves would be wildly overpowering. I sure did, and almost cut back on the amount even before trying. But, follow the recipe! The cloves blend surprisingly well with the other spices helping to create the cookie's namesake snappiness.
- I used my go-to 1.5 TB oxo scoop to form the cookies and got a bit of a smaller yield (~20 cookies total) - alas, without any helpers. 😉
- For extra texture and sugary sparkle, I like to roll the cookies in turbinado sugar.
- You really can bake these cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (it does, though, help to use an offset spatula to release them from the pan). But if dubious, you can also successfully bake the cookies on a sheet of parchment paper.
- The shortening helps the cookies hold their picture-perfect shape and creates an addictively crispy edge with a soft middle. But if you prefer baking with butter, these Pass-Along Molasses Cookies are deliciously similar (but do need to be refrigerated before baking).
Keywords: Gingersnaps, Gingersnap Cookies, Molasses Cookies, Christmas Cookies, Holiday Cookies, Beth Ann Fennelly, Heating & Cooling, Poet Laureate