Despite the extensive baking that I do for the most part I actually prefer store bought cookies. Strange isn't it? For me it's all about the "process" of creating rather than the end result. By the time the cookies have been baked I've already mentally moved on to the next challenge.
Back to the store bought cookies....an old-fashioned favorite are Nabisco Ginger Snaps. Ginger is one of my favorite spices and I love it in savory or sweet things. When Cook's Illustrated published a recipe for these crispy, spicy cookies with a double dose of ginger (fresh and ground) I wanted to give them a try and see how they compared to Nabisco's.
No competition whatsoever. The homemade version was so much better than the boxed variety. The ginger flavor really comes through without being too overpowering. Absolutely perfect with a cold glass of milk!
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.
Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls.
TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.