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Gingersnaps

I’m a sucker for Gingersnaps in all forms – warm and homemade, or crunchy crispy straight out of a bag from the grocery store.  But these are my favorite, mostly because my mom discovered that doubling the ginger the recipe originally called for makes them extra spicy and delicious.  They’re soft and chewy, and after being coated in sugar they kind of sparkle – a perfect cookie to make around Christmastime!

The original hand-written recipe in our Cooking Notebook includes a 6x version that we make for our family Christmas Party each year, complete with chicken scratched fractions and inverse proportions.  I’ve included the 6x recipe at the end too, to spare you from the headache of doing the math just in case you feel like feeding an army.

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Cookie Ingredients:

¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup white sugar, plus more sugar for dusting dough balls

¼ cup molasses

1 large egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Cookie Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease baking sheets with butter or olive oil and set aside.  Also prepare and set aside a small bowl filled with a big handful of sugar.

Here’s the secret to all Eastman cookies:  If you cheat on this, your cookies won’t be as wonderful.  Cream your butter (which means beat it on the “high” setting) in an electric stand mixer for 5 minutes with the paddle attachment.  Then add your sugar and cream for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  The mixture should look very light, fluffy, and creamy.

Scraping down the sides of the bowl, add molasses and egg and mix until evenly combined. Then add dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated, but do not overbeat.  Overbeating your batter at this stage will develop the gluten in the flour, making your cookies tough and dense.  Beat the batter on low just until everything is smooth.

Roll spoonfuls of dough between your palms to create evenly sized (about 1 inch in diameter) dough balls.  Roll each dough ball in your prepared bowl of sugar until it is completely coated.  Arrange the sugared dough balls on cookie sheets, 3 across and 4 down, and bake for 6 – 8 minutes.  You want to make sure not to over-bake them since they’re best when they’re soft and chewy.  Remember that they’ll continue to bake a bit while they’re cooling on the cookie sheets, so if they still look a little puffy and slightly underdone when you take them out of the oven, that’s ok.

Finally, stack them up and serve them warm or cooled!

 Yield: About 24 cookies

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 “6x” Version

 Cookie Ingredients:

4 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 cups white sugar, plus more sugar for dusting dough balls

1 ½ cups molasses

6 large eggs

4 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon salt

4 tablespoons ground ginger

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cloves

13 ½ cups all-purpose flour

 Yield: About 150 cookies

Nicole

My first introduction to Nicole’s family was when I taught Nicole as a wee 5th grader, and now I get to teach with her mom each week in Kindergarten! I’ve got lots of love and admiration for this family, and felt extra honored to document their beautiful daughter in her final year of high school. Nicole has the sweetest spirit, and on top of that she was blessed with goddess hair and the prettiest deep brown eyes. Lucky girl!

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Pumpkin Cookies

It doesn’t feel like fall in our house until these perfect little puffs of pumpkin make an appearance.  My mom remembers getting this recipe at a tailgate party when we lived in Fort Worth, and now we’re pretty sure this recipe has been passed around to at least half of San Diego.

If you bake them right, the cookies are soft and pillowy, almost muffin-like.  But it’s the cream cheese frosting that puts them over the top.  Pumpkin and cream cheese…most definitely a match made in heaven.

I like making the frosting first, and then moving on to the cookie batter.  Somehow it makes me feel like I have less mess to clean up at the end.

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Frosting Ingredients:

½ cup salted butter, at room temperature

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 pound confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting Preparation:

Using the paddle attachment of an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on high until light and fluffy.  Pour in the vanilla extract, then gradually add in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated.  Let it beat around in the bowl for about 30 seconds.  The texture should be creamy and spreadable, but not super runny.  Adjust the quantity of sugar if needed to achieve the right consistency.

Transfer the frosting into a bowl and set it aside until the cookies are cooled and ready.

Cookie Ingredients:

2 cups canned pumpkin

4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 cups all-purpose flour

Cookie Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Grease baking sheets with butter or olive oil and set aside.

Here’s the secret to all Eastman cookies:  If you cheat on this, your cookies won’t be as wonderful.  Cream your butter (which means beat it on the “high” setting) in an electric stand mixer for 5 minutes with the paddle attachment.  Then add your sugars and cream for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  The mixture should look very light, fluffy, and creamy.

Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Then add dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated, but do not overbeat.  Overbeating your batter at this stage will develop the gluten in the flour, making your cookies tough and dense.  Beat the batter on low just until everything is smooth.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

Once the cookies are cooled, neatly spread the frosting in a swirling motion, covering most of the cookie but not going all the way out to the edges.  Arrange them on platters in a single layer (because of the soft frosting, you won’t want to stack these cookies), take them with you to your next party, and you’ll be making friends all night long.

Yield: About 60 cookies