December 27, 2004
A New Year, and Some Gingersnaps
posted by Nadia

This modern world barrages me daily with a series of unreasonable demands and rude expectations. Get a cell phone. Get married. Get rid of those jeans with the holes in them. And, most persistent of all: Get back on the website.

I hear it constantly. My dear brother, for example, seems incapable of engaging me in a conversation that doesn't somehow turn to this site. "You and Carl should really start posting again. It was such a pleasure to read." And now that he's married, he's got extra support for his vicious entreaties from his wife. The two of them seem to be in some sort of evil and maniacal conspiracy with my mother, her boyfriend, his son, various friends of the family, neighbors, friends, and a host of random internet folks, all of whom have apparently been in a deep and tragic state of depression since our last posting, in July of 2003. They remind me of this at every opportunity.

I am not a weak woman, but even I have crumbled under the pressure.

I'm going to try to start posting again.

I cannot promise that the site will ever revisit its heyday of multiple postings in one day, with artistic photographs and detailed recipes -- promises to perform are simply too much pressure. But I can promise to try. Much like the folks on Reno 911, the What We Ate motto can only be, "We aim to try." [Note: Comments have been temporarily turned off while we try to get a handle on the spam situation]

Please, no hoopla, no fanfare. You'll frighten the misanthropes. Instead, off to the kitchen with all you readers and enjoy this gingersnap recipe. It's been tested and approved by the greater Chicago Ukrainian community, a gaggle of glogg-slurping Philadelphia hepcats, a federal judge, a small but dedicated contingent of Holliswood Christmasgoers, and, most importantly, one Carl Hill-Popper. The technique is a little odd (the sugar isn't creamed with the butter, but simply whisked into the flour before the wet ingredients are added), but the outcome is both highly delicious and supercute -- I roll the dough into smallish balls, which makes for two-bite sized cookies, perfect for classy events when you don't want crumbs on your face, like rehearsal dinners. If, on the other hand, you want massive plate-sized ginger spice cookies, try Carl's take on the Starbucks behemoths. My smaller gingersnaps are also soft and chewy rather than "snappy," but hey, that's how I like them. Enjoy.


I adapted this recipe from one I found on Epicurious; it's originally from Blue Point Coastal Cuisine in San Diego.

2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. powdered ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/4 c. unsulfured molasses
1 egg
granulated sugar for rolling in

Sift together 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the flour, the baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk in the brown sugar. In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt the butter and whisk in the molasses, and then, after cooling slightly, the egg. Stir the butter mixture into the flour and sugar mixture until combined. Now stir in the remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour. Chill the dough until firm (at least 1 hour).

Once the dough is firm, roll it into balls with your hands ... the size is up to you, but I usually make balls about an inch in diameter, which will give you about 60 cookies. It's a good-sized recipe.

Roll the dough balls in sugar, and bake at 350 degrees on parchment paper or a Silpat for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will puff, then deflate. You want to take them out of the oven when small cracks have appeared and settled on the surface of the cookies.

If you'd like to prepare these ahead of time for baking (i.e., you're having a party and you want fresh cookies but don't want to be rolling little dough balls while your pals are drinking glogg), it's fine to roll the dough balls and dump them in a Ziploc with some sugar, and store them this way in the fridge until you're ready to bake. Of course, time spent in a bag in the fridge equals condensation, which means the sugar coating won't be quite so sparkly and smooth when you bake them ... but if everyone has had enough glogg, nobody will notice.