Friday, April 5, 2013

Flashback Friday: Great-Grandma's Chewy Ginger Cookies

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I wasn't lying when I said there was an abundance of old molasses cookie recipes in the family.  This one comes from my great-grandma on my mom's side.  Around age 20 she came over from Norway and got her first job as a cook for a doctor's family.  The family lived in St. Paul but brought her with to cook when they stayed at their resort home in Maine.  She also accompanied them as first cook aboard ship on the Great Lakes.  The details have been lost to time, but I still have some of her recipes like these ginger cookies.

 I've made more than my fair share of molasses cookies, yet I've never seen one utilizing a crisscross fork pattern.  Flattening with a fork is usually reserved for peanut butter cookies, but I was pleasantly surprised by its use here.  Many molasses cookie recipes call for chilling the dough, but these cookies can be baked immediately.  I'm generally not a fan of cloves and was hesitant to add a whole teaspoon.  Once again I was pleasantly surprised and found the blend of spices to be just right.

These crackled cookies are slightly crisp on the edges, soft in the center and absolutely chewy all the way through.  You know, that kind of cookie that's perfectly bendable.  If you're looking for a hard spice cookie you may prefer this recipe from my great-grandma on the other side of the family.  And if you like super soft (but not chewy) cookies then you'll get along with two of my great-aunts, one known for her tiny Ginger Creams and the other for her large and thick molasses cookies.  It's amazing how such similar ingredients can yield such different results.

Well, we've bitten off one more recipe from the old-lady cookie stack.  It only takes a bite to figure out why this recipe gets passed on from one generation to the next.  I can't help but smile at the fact that my great-grandma learned to cook while working in a doctor's house.  My part-time job right now has so many similarities.  I guess I'm right where I need to be on the path towards old lady.  Hopefully I have just as many recipes to pass on to the next generation as she did.

Chewy Ginger Cookies
recipe from my Great-Grandma Hattie

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl cream together shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses and egg.  In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Stir dry ingredients into wet mixture.
* Roll dough into 1-1/2-inch balls; coat in additional sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Press balls down with tines of fork, forming a crisscross pattern.  Bake 7-8 minutes or until cookies are just puffed and cracked.  Edges will be set but centers will be soft and look undone.  Let cool 2 minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.

Food for Thought: "There is a fragrance in the air, a certain passage of a song, an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book, the sound of somebody's voice in the hall that makes your heart leap and fills your eyes with tears. Who can say when or how it will be that something easters up out of the dimness to remind us of a time before we were born or after we will die?" -Frederick Buechner

1 comment:

  1. Love the Buechner quote, Melissa! My grandma made awesome ginger cookies, too. I might have to make some soon....