October 17, 2008 · 10 comments · Print This Post

in Baked Goods, Cookies, Desserts


In college I worked at a video store and had to wear this really ugly red polo shirt that proudly declared me an employee of the Movie Gallery. An awful screener tape of movie previews would come in once a month from corporate and we were forced to play it over and over throughout our shifts. Needless to say this was total torture. When The Family Man was released on DVD the Talking Heads Song “Once in a Lifetime” played in the commercial. Whenever that segment would queue up my fellow unhappy co-workers of the day and I would yell out, “how did I get here!” along with the television.

That loop of new releases was maddening and eventually everything would begin to look like absolutely fascinating cinema. When Dude, Where’s my Car starts to look like an appealing rental you have to get a little suspicious about the potential of possible subliminal marketing ploys…

There was one perk to my nightly “your DVD is late” calls and re-shelving drudgery — we received a lot of advanced screener copies of films before they were released to the public. Once upon a time one of the movies I took home was Ginger Snaps. I’d categorize it as a coming-of-age anxiety film with werewolves. It’s dark but actually pretty clever for a horror film. In fact, one of the professors I work with just showed it in a class, which is how the memory of this little film (and my video store stint) was initially jogged in my mind.

Obviously the film Ginger Snaps has nothing to do with the cookies called Gingersnaps. My personal gingersnaps memories are mostly of eating them out of the brown paper bag packaging that they came in at the grocery store. Those cookies are always hard as rocks though and since I’m a chewy cookie girl I opted to under cook these a bit for a softer texture. My favorite part of this recipe is that it calls for white pepper which is a spice I love and sadly rarely use. The flavor it gives these cookies is off the charts! So go watch that scary movie (it’s available on iTunes) and eat a plate of sassy snacks. Tis the season.


After making this recipe several additional times I’ve nixed the slice and bake method in favor of another approach. I now shape the cookie dough with a small ice cream scoop. I then roll the dough into uniform balls, placing them in batches into a large bowl with one cup of sugar. Next I swirl the container to coat the gingersnaps completely with sugar. Finally I place them onto a cookie sheet. For small chewy cookies you should bake each batch for 8 minutes at 350º. Let the cookies stand for two minutes before carefully moving them to a wire rack.

Gingersnaps (makes about 5 1/2 dozen cookies)
Adapted from: A Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
Extra sugar for rolling

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for several minutes until smooth, light, and fluffy. Add spices and mixed until combined.

Add egg and mix to combine. Add molasses and mix to combine.

Add flour mixture and mix to just combine.

Update: Please see the note above for an additional way to prepare this dough, or if you prefer follow the slice and bake method below as outlined in the original recipe.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 12-inch log and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice. Dough may be refrigerated up to 2 days or stored in the freezer, wrapped airtight, for two weeks (thaw in refrigerator overnight before using).

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease several cookie sheets. Fill a small bowl with the sugar reserved for rolling.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut slices 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Coat slices in sugar and place on sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 6-10 minutes; for chewy cookies, remove from oven when each cookie is just holding its shape when nudged. For crispy cookies, bake until edges are set and center is slightly soft. Cool sheets on wire racks for a couple of minutes before transferring cookies directly ontp wire racks with a spatula to finish cooling.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Abbey October 17, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I, too, worked in a video store…but I was in high school at the time. Oh Video Solution…how I DON’T miss thee! That place sucked…the only good thing about it were the free rents, early release viewers, and the people I worked with…one of them became my very best friends. (Chris Marshall Shout Out!!) He is currently in Hollywood trying to make it big…so clearly the video store did him some good. 😉

Anyhoo…my point… I can’t believe that you had certain tapes that you had to play. We were basically allowed to play whatever we wanted…as long as it was at least PG. Was yours a chain store? My was owned by a lowly man who ended up (by the time I was in college) sleeping around on his wife which left him sleeping in the back of the store. HA! Serves him right…he was a jerk.

I’m off point again…and writing a novel to boot!

Again…anyhoo…I love me some ginger snaps and remember those that came in brown paper bags. So Good, but not the softest. I had to dunk mine in milk and I am no milk dunker. I’m very curious to try out your recipe…maybe I’ll make it when my friends come over for Halloween. We are also having yummy southern fried chicken. YUM-O!! No relation to Halloween…we just make really good friend chicken! 😉


2 Megan October 17, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I love Gingersnaps! I have never seen white pepper in the recipe! I bet it does give the cookies a nice flavor!


3 Nikki October 17, 2008 at 7:23 pm

I remember that crazy movie. It came on HBO. That girl was craaazy.

I’m not a white pepper fan (blame it on Le Cordon Bleu; it gets put in EVERYTHING, and thyme as well) but I love ginger snaps. Mmm mmm mmm. I always add black pepper when I use ginger, to accentuate the spicyness.


4 Crystal October 18, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Props on the soft gingersnaps!


5 Erin October 19, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Great post. 🙂 Love your more personal stories. I’m not a fan of Gingersnaps but yours look so appetizing, I just may have to try them.


6 diva October 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm

hmmm.i love gingersnaps! looking at these really makes me wish i had some.


7 Vicki October 26, 2008 at 5:51 pm

These are so delicious, love the addition of white pepper! Thanks for a great recipe 🙂


8 Kasey November 4, 2008 at 1:17 am

I have been trying to find a good new gingersnap recipe without shortening. This might just be my next cookie! Gotta love it when you also have random ingredients (like white pepper) sitting in your pantry from the last holiday season. Thanks for this!


9 nithya at hungry desi December 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Erin, thanks for this recipe! We made these on Christmas day and they were a hit! Btw I’m adding you as a link on my site – would be great if you did the same – AND congrats on the NYT shoutout…Raj sent me the link.


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