It took me quite a bit of experimenting to get this particular recipe how I wanted. Lots of trial and error. I knew the texture and flavor for which I was aiming. I tweaked and tweaked with each new batch until I came up with what I consider "The Ultimate Ginger Cookie" recipe. I think you'll like this one and I urge you to try it for yourself. It has become my favorite holiday cookie.
Thin and crisp, these cookies are more complex in flavor than traditional, run-of-the-mill ginger snaps. Each spice is all at once undeniably and robustly distinct, yet harmoniously in sync with the other. The cookies are addicting in every sense of the word. Last year, I hid away the last couple of dozen for myself and I may have led the kids to think that there were simply no more left. (Shhhh! That'll probably happen again this year, too.)
Note that the dough is made a bit in advance before baking. You will need, at least, four-to-six hours for it to rest before rolling it out, but it will keep in the fridge for up to four days. So, plan accordingly. Also, what I learned is that it will take a little bit of time to get used to working with this particular dough. There's nothing overly difficult about it ... it's just not the typical sugar or gingerbread cookie style of dough that you may be used to. As per the directions, work in small batches and keep things dusted with flour as you go along.
This recipes should yield six-to-seven dozen cookies (depending on the size of the cookie cutter that you utilize).
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, blend together two cups of flour, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and baking soda.
Add the molasses, shortening, brown sugar and vanilla extract to the flour mixture. Using a hand mixer, blend on medium speed until everything is well-combined and a smooth, almost-shiny dough is created. Divide the dough in half, bring each section together in a mound/ball and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest in a cool place for four-to-six hours. Wrapped dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days before proceeding, as well.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Lightly flour a clean work surface/counter. Tear off about a fourth of one of the dough balls. Using a flour-coated rolling pin, roll out dough as thinly as possible while rotating and flipping the dough as you go along. (Utilize additional flour as needed if dough becomes too sticky.) Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter of your choice. (Try to keep the size less than three inches in diameter so that cookies are not difficult to transfer to baking sheet. It is a somewhat delicate dough.)
Because the cookies are so thin, it is helpful to transfer them from work area to baking sheet with a thin spatula.
Depending on the size of your baking sheet and the size of the cookie cutter used, 12 - 15 cookies should fit on each tray. Cookies should not touch when placed on baking sheet.
Bake on middle rack for 6 minutes. Cookies will still be slightly pliable and soft, but the edges especially will have started to look "dry."
Remove from oven. Allow cookies to rest on baking sheet for a few minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack using a thin spatula. Cookies will become crisp within a few minutes.
Rework dough back together in a ball and reroll as needed after cutting out cookies. Once that amount of dough has been utilized, tear off another section of dough and repeat process until all of the dough has been utilized.
Once cookies are all completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.