Dear Nick Malgieri,
I saw your Ginger Sandwich Cookies filled with lemon cream in a recent issue of Food & Wine magazine and decided I’d give them a try. Although gingersnaps have never been and will never be a cookie I find myself craving, the lemon filling did catch my attention and I thought that with the ginger, the flavor could be exceptional.
Although that did not disappoint, the molasses, on the other hand, gave me pause because the last time I made cookies that had molasses in them, the results were less than appealing until I bent them into submission after much trial and error.
Now I know I’m far from perfect on most days, but I have had a modest amount of experience cooking and baking with great success — thankfully more times than not. I also use excellent equipment and so cannot blame poor result on either of those factors.
What I’m left with is a question, and I’m asking it of you since this is your recipe and the photograph chosen to illustrate the intended results looks far different than mine — especially my first batch.
- When baking cookies with molasses, is there something I just don’t understand? What causes them to spread so? I know sugar in general causes that, and when using molasses, a smaller quantity is needed, as in this recipe which calls for only 1/4 cup. Could it be the brand of molasses? I use Grandma’s which is just about the only kind I’ve ever used, and the jar I used for this batch was opened recently.
- Although keeping a very close eye on the Ginger Sandwich cookies during the required bake time, I realized I needed to remove them from the oven only half way through the expected 20-minute baking time, and even then, the cookies were far too done. Actually, burnt.
- I prefer to use convection settings for everything except for recipes with a high quantity of egg, so am used to reducing the heat and cooking time to compensate for that choice. However, because of the previous results, I chose not to use convection heat for this recipe. On the second batch, again, with only 7 minutes of the baking time elapsed, I had to remove the cookies.
Mr. Malgieri, I know that often, baking is an adventure, and I accept that most of the time. Because I’m used to reading recipes, I can usually spot one that I think could be problematic, and with this recipe, the cooking time did get my attention. Cookies rarely bake that long. Nevertheless, I proceeded like the trusting home cook I am.
I will say your ginger cookies are lovely tasting with a nice bite — chewy, with a pleasant tartness from the lemon cream which blends well with the overall sweetness. Very, very nice. I just wish I’d done them justice. So I’m curious and would enjoy trying these again, but detest wasting food so need some direction.
Did Food & Wine misprint the recipe? Or am I just someone who should step away from the molasses?
With the utmost respect,
p.s. They stack pretty good though!
Nick Malgieri’s Ginger Sandwich Cookies
For the cookies…
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 lg. egg, at room temperature
1/4 c. unsulfured molasses
For the filling…
6 T unsalted butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 T fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. In the bowl of a
standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and
sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and
molasses. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until
incorporated, scraping down the bowl.
Working in 2 batches, drop scant tablespoons of the dough onto the
baking sheets, 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, until
risen and fallen and slightly firm; shift the sheets from top to bottom
and front to back halfway through for even baking. Let cool slightly,
then transfer the parchment paper to racks and let the cookies cool
Bake the remaining cookies.
To make the filling, in the bowl of a
standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with
the confectionersâ€™ sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about
3 minutes then beat in the lemon juice.
Arrange the cookies in pairs on a large work surface. Spoon or pipe
1 rounded tablespoon of the lemon filling onto the flat side of half of
the cookies. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, pressing them
together so the filling spreads to the edge.
- Using a tablespoon, I dropped dough less than the 3″ recommended. I know. It’s there for all the world to see on the silicone mat. But that didn’t have anything to do with the cookies being burnt in only half the baking time.
- So the second go round I balled the dough hoping for something that didn’t spread so rapidly. Standing in front of the oven and watching through the glass, I removed the cookies at 7 minutes with some edges still getting ready to burn.
- As you can see by my results, I desperately need a cookie scooper so that I, too, can have cookies that are EXACTLY the same size.
- If you have knowledge that I am clearly lacking about any of this, by all means, please let me know. In fact, I encourage you to try this recipe because the taste is definitely excellent. I guess I just can’t make cookies that are of the “snap” variety.
- I did mail these cookies to Breadchick aka Mary of The Sourdough, however, who lives about 3,000 miles from here, so I guess the good news would be that they travel well. Maybe. I haven’t seen a photo of the condition they arrived in!
Batch 1 and Batch 2: Dropped as directed, and the second time, rolled and increased quantity. No. I have no scientific reason for increasing the quantity in Batch 2.
This is Batch 1: Fairly uniformly shaped, but at 10 minutes, burnt. My husband liked them anyway. Go figure.
This is Batch 2: They’re larger, but I took them out at 7 minutes so managed to save them. You can see where the edges were beginning to burn. These were more chewy and not crisp like the first batch.