Another day of Christmas baking! This recipe is easy peasy, and uses the leftover eggnog and cream cheese icing from the Cinnamon Buns recipe I posted last week. This is the first time I have made gingersnap cookies myself, but these autumn/winter treats have long been a favourite of mine. I remember cold winter days in Brackendale at the Bean Around the World, eating their huge gingersnap cookies with hot chocolate. To me, these cookies are 100% nostalgia and holidays.
Quick history lesson: what is the difference between gingerbread and gingersnap? Or snickerdoodles? Where did these recipes come from?
These three spiced cookies are very similarly composed, but with slight ingredient variations and different cooking techniques, which ultimately significantly change the taste and structure of each cookie.
It could be Dutch, it could be German. Or, it could be from New England on the eastern shore of the United States.
Many of the ingredients are the same ones used in gingersnaps and gingerbread (like flour, baking powder, butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon), but the snickerdoodle differs as the spices (the cinnamon and sugar blend) are not mixed into the cookie dough. Instead, the spice mixture coats the outside of the dough, thus providing the treat with several layers of different flavours – this creates a cookie with a spicy, yet sugary outer layer and a simple sweet centre. This differs from the Gingerbread and Gingersnap cookies, which are a conglomerate of ingredients mixed together and then baked in unison.
Gingerbread has been around for centuries in one form or another, but was introduced to England from the Middle East around the 11th century (almost 1000 years ago!).
During the 1500s the recipe was perfected to the one we know and love today by none other than my favourite queen, Queen Elizabeth I. It was she who made the cookies with flour, rather than the commonly-used breadcrumbs, and then formed them into the shapes of dignitaries. This became an immediate trend, resulting in the eventual creation of Gingerbread men, and then the even later production of the Gingerbread House, as inspired by the tale of Hansel and Gretel in the 19th century.
As mentioned, the Gingerbread cookie is a mix of flour, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, and is spiced with ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and anise. The ingredients are mixed, rolled out, and cut using shaped molds and then baked accordingly. The tradition can be further executed with the classic topping of white icing to enhance the details of each figure.
The Gingersnap is a variation of the traditional Gingerbread cookie and are known for their crispier quality (the “snap”).
Introduced in colonial times, the greatest difference between the Gingerbread and Gingersnap is a longer bake time for an extra crisp and the use of molasses versus sugar. Molasses was used as a substitute for the more expensive sugar.
And this brings us to our mission today… Gingersnap Cookies topped with a Eggnog + Cream Cheese icing!
These cookies are not strictly gingersnaps, as they contain molasses as well as white and brown sugar.
GINGERSNAP COOKIES + EGGNOG ICING
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 13-15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
YIELDS: 2 dozen cookies
- 6 oz unsalted butter (about 1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large organic, free-range egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap!)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Eggnog + Cream Cheese Icing
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beat well. Stir in molasses and vanilla, and mix well.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture, stir until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX. I did, but I fixed it by adding 1 tbsp water to return some moisture to the dough.
- Roll cookie dough into 1 and 1/2 inch balls, leaving two inches between each ball on the sheet.
- Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until cookies spring back when lightly touched. Allow cookies to cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Top with eggnog + cream cheese icing. Enjoy!
Note: This icing will not set (as in harden). Maybe if you put them in the freezer, but it will not set in the fridge, so this recipe may not be ideal if you’re looking to wrap them up, transport them, and have them still look pretty. I would recommend a different icing recipe if that is your goal. However, if you were to transfer them all laid out and not stacked, it could work just fine.