The Great Cookie Experiment – Gingerbread Cookies

The Great Cookie Experiment- Holiday Edition

Grandma Rene’s Ginger Cookies

It’s the Christmas season, and that means lots of goodies to share with family and friends, so for the next few weeks, I’ll be trying out some holiday cookie recipes in my cookbook collections and letting you know whether or not they’re worth making for the neighborhood cookie exchange!

The thing is, I don’t actually make cookies at Christmas anymore.  Many years ago, my friend Jana taught me how to dip chocolates, and I loved it so much, I decided that I would give up my tradition of making several batches of cookies in favor of candy.  It’s been a steep learning curve, and every year I get better.  It usually means that I don’t have room for cookies.  So I started baking cookies in November, so I could fit in both.

This week’s cookie comes from a storytelling event that took place for the first time this year.  The Story Potluck was a compilation of writing, storytelling and cooking.  People submitted recipes that had a good story to go with them, and those that were chosen were put in a cookbook and asked to share their story on the night of the potluck.  I had two recipes chosen to be in the book, and was lucky enough to share my fruit dip story at the event itself.  Best of all, all of the profits go to benefit the homeless here in Utah.  The book can be downloaded in an ebook format at storypotluck.org.

In the cookbook, Judy Pomeroy Pond shares not only her grandmother’s recipe, but gives us a glimpse into the life of this very interesting woman.  The fun thing about the recipe is that it’s very loose in its ingredients and measurements.  Grandma Rene’s measurements were by the handful instead of the cup, and by a soup spoon instead of a Tablespoon.  If she didn’t have enough of a particular ingredient, she’d substitute something else.  The result is a soft gingerbread cookie that is full of flavor.  Eventually.

I tasted these cookies at the Story Potluck and was instantly in love.  I was looking forward to getting the book so that I could make the recipe.  When I made my version, however, I was a little disappointed.  The cinnamon flavor was strong, but that was because the cinnamon flavor comes from cinnamon oil instead of the spice.  It was a very strong cinnamon- red hot style, but there was a blandness from the dough underneath that didn’t quite work.  I felt like the cookies needed the frosting to taste good.  THAT didn’t last, however!  That’s what I mean about eventually.   These cookies are definitely better the next day when the flavor has had a chance to work through the cookie.  It mellowed out the cinnamon, and enriched the dough.  Combined with the soft texture, these cookies are winners.

Be aware that this batch makes a zillion cookies.  I’m not kidding.  ONLY make these cookies when you’re planning on feeding your entire hometown.  Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but 8 or 9 dozen is still a LOT of cookies.  Be ready to give them away or have a LOT left over!

Grandma Rene’s Ginger Cookies

2 cups sugar (brown, granulated or a mixture of both.  I used half and half)

1 ½ cups butter

3-4 eggs (this was usually dependent on what her chickens had laid.  I used 3 eggs)

1 cup honey and/or molasses (I also split this one in half.  I had intended to just use molasses, but there wasn’t enough.  I filled the rest of the cup with honey, which is probably what Grandma Rene did too)

1 HEAPING Tablespoon of ground ginger (she used a large soup spoon to scoop)

½ tsp cinnamon oil

1-2 cups milk (I only used 1)

2 Tbl baking powder

2 tsp salt

8-9 cups flour- enough to make a soft dough.

Mix all together, knead and roll out ¼ inch thick (I chilled the dough first, and recommend you do the same.  Give it at least a 30 minutes in the fridge).  Cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 350 for 7-9 minutes.  Frost.

Grandma Rene iced her cookies with a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze.  Judy has adapted her grandmother’s recipe to frost hers with a cream cheese frosting.  I used the cream cheese frosting because, well, yum!

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