If you know me well, you know that I bake the sweet stuff mostly for my husband and especially for our daughter, or to gift them out to family and friends. I’ve never been a “Cookie” sort of person unless they’re savoury. The exception to this is the Gingernut Biscuit (a Gingersnap Cookie if you’re American). I love them, but no one else at home does.
The Gingernuts that I know and like are crisp and dark biscuits/ cookies that are all ginger in flavour. They usually have a a mix of other spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, etc. which enhance the flavour of the Gingernut without overpowering the flavour of ginger.
Gingernut biscuits/ cookies are essentially British and their hard texture makes them one of the best dunkable biscuits in the English regions. The British are known for their love of biscuits which can be dunked in tea and eaten. No one seems to know why these biscuits are called Gingernuts because while they have plenty of ginger in them they contain no nuts at all. One suggestion is that it could be because the biscuits are crisp/ hard like a nut which really doesn’t make much sense to me.
A more believable explanation for the name is that apparently, in the baking industry of the time, small pieces of dough which were pinched off and put on baking sheets were referred to as “nuts”. So ginger flavoured dough/ gingerbread dough bits (usually smaller than the average biscuit as well) were called “ginger nuts” and hence the name.
Apparently, Gingernuts have been around since the mid-1800s. Gingernuts were quite common in Cornwall and were traditionally sold at fairs as “fairings”. “Fairings” were edible souvenirs sold at fairs around Cornwall back in the old days, and included Gingernuts, caraway seed and almond comfits (dried fruit, seeds/ nuts or bits of spice coated with sugar) locally called “lamb’s tails”, and macaroons. With time, Faitings eventually referred to Gingernut biscuits or gingerbread, which were bought as treats for children or by men to gift to their sweethearts.
This recipe for Gingernut Biscuits/ Cookies is adapted from 500 Cookies: The Only Cookie Compendium You’ll Ever Need by Philippa Vanstone and Carol Beckerman, published by Sellers Publishing. Now in a second edition, this little cookbook from the Sellers Publishing’s 500 Series has more than 170 new recipes and a new chapter on Indulgent Cookies.
The book has information on all the basic cookie-making techniques, followed by 500 clear and easy-to-follow recipes gathered from around the world. They include family favourites as well as new delicacies. (Adapted from 500 Cookies: The Only Cookie Compendium You’ll Ever Need).
Gingernuts Biscuits/ Cookies (Gingersnaps)
- 50 gm butter , melted and cooled
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsps molasses
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tsps powdered dried ginger
- 1/4 tsp powdered cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp powdered nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp powdered allspice
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar , to decorate
- Mix the cooled melted butter, molasses, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Sift the flour and the remaining dry ingredients together and stir into the butter mixture. If the mixture seems too soft to shape add a tbsp. or two more of flour if necessary but not more. Refrigerate the dough for about half an hour if necessary to make the dough easier to shape. Take about 1 1/2 tbsp of cookie mixture and shape into balls.
- Place them about 2" apart (they will spread) on a parchment lined or lightly greased baking tray. Gently press down the cookies into 3-cm rounds. Refrigerate the cookies for about an hour before baking.
- Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake at 180C (350F) for 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will puff up and settle when cooked. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store them in an airtight container for up to five days.
I had promised cookbook giveaways throughout September and October. Since I wasn’t able to quite keep that promise, the giveaways will happen but extend into November.
Sellers Publishing have been generous to send me a copy of 500 Cookies to give away to one randomly chosen reader of this blog.
If you would like to win a copy of this cookbook please leave a comment at this post telling me what your favourite cookie is.
This giveaway is open till the midnight of the 22nd October, 2015, after which I will pick one random commenter as the lucky winner of this giveaway.
Also please leave an e-mail id or some way I can write to you if you win. Please note this giveaway is open only to those who have a shipping address in India.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.