Friday, January 4, 2013

Flashback Friday: Ginger Creams

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

We're going to change things up a little around here and try out a new theme for Fridays.  Flashback Fridays will feature a recipe somehow connected to ages past.  I love paging through old cookbooks, looking at the stained pages and reading handwritten notes left in the margins.  This might include anything from my great grandma's recipes to a childhood tradition to a well-worn recipe card I've found floating around.  In the age of computers and blogs it's easy to overlook the picture-less pages tucked inside an old cookbook.  I will always enjoy new, out-of-the-box ideas, but there is something to be said for the stories inside each recipe box as well.

Our first Flashback Friday recipe comes from my Great-Aunt Alvina.  Every year for as long as I can remember, she has made ginger creams for her Christmas treat tray.  Without fail, they disappear in no time flat.  As I paged through one of our cookbooks an old postcard fell out.

Okay, it's not that old, but it was still written before I was born.  You don't write your post cards with a typewriter anymore, do you?  When I read the back I found Alvina's recipe for ginger creams.  She credits it to the 1948 Betty Crocker Picture Cooky Book.  I have a later edition of the cookbook which traces the recipe back to 1910-1920.

Alvina's version is slightly adapted but essentially the same.  She makes them extra special by painstakingly spooning the dough, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp at a time onto the cookie sheets.  The resulting cookie is about the size of a quarter.  I had no idea how long it took her to make these until I made a batch on my own.  After she spoons hundreds of cookies, a quarter teaspoon at a time, and bakes them, she then frosts and decorates each one.

The result is outstanding and well worth the labor involved each Christmas. These soft, bite-sized ginger cookies melt in your mouth, one after another.  I couldn't even get them off the pan, much less frosted, before my family was reaching for handfuls.

Ginger Creams
recipe from my Great-Aunt Alvina,
who found it in the Betty Crocker Picture Cooky Book, 1948

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 small egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup hot water

Icing: Blend 3/4 cup powdered sugar with 1/4 tsp vanilla. Add 3-4 tsp milk or cream to desired consistency.  (I needed 3 batches of frosting to cover all the cookies.)

* Sift together flour, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon; set aside.
* In a large bowl cream shortening and sugar. Beat in egg and molasses. In a small bowl stir together baking soda and hot water until soda is dissolved.
* To prevent curdling, alternately stir in parts of flour mixture and liquid until both are used up.  Dough will be very wet; chill several hours or overnight.
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a small spoon drop dough by heaping 1/4 teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 7-8 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when lightly touched with finger. Let cool completely before frosting with icing and decorating with colored sugar or red cinnamon candies. Store in airtight container between layers of waxed paper.

Food for Thought: "You can not do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." -Ralph Waldo Emerson 


  1. Oh my goodness. My mom has the Cooky Book, the pages are yellowed and it is falling apart, but I love flipping through it and seeing the beatiful pictures of cookies that are works of art.

    1. I have the 1963 version. You should check out the Kringla recipe on pg 53, see what town it's from? (if you have the same edition.)
      Ben and I finally made Kringla based on the recipe you gave me. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What do you know? Kringla, in a Betty Crocker Cook book, I never would have guessed. What did you think of the Kringla? It is not a very flavorful or extraordinary cookie, so I think I like it mostly because I grew up with it.

    1. I was wondering if you had grown up with it :) We decided it was more like a sweet bread or cake than a cookie, or some kind of in-between. It was nice to have something more on the plain side after all the Christmas treats. I had a little trouble getting the dough stiff enough to roll out but after that we had fun making all sorts of random shapes. I wasn't quite as ambitious as you guys with the colored variations though.