Sally’s Gingersnaps

Throughout my school years, I wished for a best friend. I didn’t find her until I was well into my 30’s and had school-age children of my own. We met over flats of pansies, Ruth’s coffee and the university women’s sewing circle. We shared favorite books, family dinners and sent postcards from travels. We grew as close as blood sisters and sometimes each wished for what the other accomplished. We visited on her back garden bench, pondered life’s great questions and saw our young ones begin to forge the reality of their own experience.

Decades passed, her knees weakened, her shoulders asked for replacement, she fell, she forgot. Light started to leave my talented and dignified friend. I spoke but she no longer answered. I felt alone when I knew her fluttering eyelids had closed. As we left her earthly dust in a quiet churchyard where yellow leaves swirled at our feet, I clutched my gift, my memory of the best of friends.

Her Mennonite heritage brightened each autumn with pumpkins, apples and Pennsylvania Dutch Gingersnaps.

Sally’s Gingersnaps

 4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)

3 ½ oz. sugar (½ cup)

6 oz. unsulphured molasses (½ cup)

1 small egg or 2 tablespoons beaten egg

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

10-11 oz. all purpose flour (2-2 ¼ cups)

Cream butter and sugar mixing in molasses and egg. Stir in salt and all spices. Dissolve soda in vinegar and add to mixture along with enough flour to make a stiff dough. Scrape the dough into the center of a sheet of plastic film, wrap and chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Divide chilled dough into 6ths and roll each small piece on a lightly floured surface to a thin circle; aim for 1/16th inch thickness. Cut into rounds or other shapes. Place on parchement covered baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 9-10 minutes. (Add the scrapes from one rolling onto the next segment of fresh dough before another rolling.)Take care during baking since molasses cookies burn easily.

If thin rolling is too difficult, roll each segment of dough into a long snake about ½ inch in diameter; cut into cherry sized lumps and roll in balls. Place balls on parchment covered baking sheets and press with oiled, flat bottom of a small glass dipped in sugar. Redip the glass in sugar for each cookie. Makes 6 to 8 dozen gingersnaps.

Note: Photo shows both cut-out and hand shaped cookies.

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