After watching many Cook’s Illustrated test recipes come and go from my email inbox, I finally received one that interested me enough to give it a try. I have mixed feelings about the experience, but judging by how quickly these ginger snaps disappeared, I’d say it was a success.
2 ½ cups (12 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups packed (8 ¾ ounces) dark brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg, plus 1 large yolk
½ cup granulated sugar
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
Place brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger in second bowl.
Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes.
Add butter mixture to bowl with brown sugar and whisk to combine. Add egg and egg yolk add whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined (use a wooden spoon and be prepared to work for it!). Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen for up to a month.)
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into balls about the size of small walnuts. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.
Place one sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of cookies on upper rack. Continue to bake until lower tray of cookies just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until beginning to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 3 with remaining dough balls.
(Note: After reading this through again, I just realized that I completed messed this last part up – I put both sheets in then rotated and swapped them after 15 minutes…much less complicated but could account for the very dark edges on half of my cookies. I guess I just have to try again!).