Back in the old days there came a time late in January when the weather might warm, the sun come out, the temperature rise, and there would be a brief period we called a January thaw before winter settled in again to stay for the duration. It felt like a time to catch one’s breath and relax a bit in the middle of a tough race–and all the more welcome for that when winter in Maine could endure until April.
In the last few days here on the coast we had a touch of January thaw that included a day of steady downpour, washing away what little snow we’ve had—but quite honestly, winter so far has not really come along. What the old-timers called “a good old-fashioned Maine wintah” is something we don’t see so much anymore. Some folks are happy for that, others of us worry about the implications for everything from rising seawaters to drought for summer’s vegetable gardens.
In the meantime, on a day of unrelenting downpour it seemed like a good idea to whip together these spicy ginger cookies—perfect with a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk, banishing dull and dreary clouds from the atmosphere.
Like most cookies, these are simple and easy: Toss together the dry ingredients, blend the butter and sugar with the rest, then fold together, refrigerate for a little while, and bake till done.
Crisp Ginger Cookies
Toss together in a bowl:
- 2 cups flour,
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
Beat a cup of unsalted butter to a cream, then beat in ¾ cup of sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, until thoroughly blended.
- ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 teaspoon of very finely minced fresh ginger
Beat briefly, just to mix together, then use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture, folding it over and over to combine thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
When you’re ready to cook, turn the oven on to 350º. Spread parchment paper on baking sheets and have about ½ cup granulated sugar ready in a small bowl.
Take tablespoons of the cookie dough and roll into firm balls. Roll the balls around the sugar in the bowl to coat them thoroughly, then set on the parchment sheets. The balls should be about 2 inches apart.
Transfer the baking sheets to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they collapse into round discs with a crackling pattern on top.
Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack. When they’re cool, you can move them to a cookie tin where they’ll keep well for a week or more.
If, that is, they don’t get eaten up on the first day.