These are great cookies, lower in fat and very economical to make. They are crispy and spicy, very much like the original product they intend to copy, but I cannot give five stars, as there is not a lot of information in the recipe to help you feel more sure in the process and succeed in the final product. This all sounds a bit time consuming, like some long and complicated Julia Child or Martha Stewart endeavour, but a few pointers can make this all go so much faster. Once you have made them a time or two, it will become very simple, novice cookie bakers, have no fear. Using the flattened ball method I like to use, this would be a great recipe to make with kids, as the process of rolling into balls and flattening with the glass dipped in sugar can be great hands on fun for them that makes them feel that they really did make the cookies, not just watched. Likely you will become an expert at making these quickly, as they tend to disappear FAST and will have requests to make them again and often, as everybody loves them. If you want, double the recipe, as these keep great, and actually improve in flavor with storage, in an AIRTIGHT container. Still, you will probably never know how they taste after a week, no matter how many you make, lol. First, be warned, this dough, after the addition of the last of the flour, is extremely soft and sticky, nowhere near what one becomes used to as being "gingerbread." Typical gingerbread often ends up like cardboard though, which is NOT the case here. Chill the dough completely before attempting to roll out and do take heed of using very generous amounts of flour for the board AND pin. Alternative method, rolling into small balls, chilling the balls, and then flattening out with the bottom of a glass sprayed with Pam or other cooking spray, spraying once for the whole batch should do, then dipping the glass in sugar, sometimes more than once for each cookie. Again, very sticky dough, but much more workable when chilled. If you want to have the look of the "original", consider using a cookie press fitted with the ginger man plate, or another one of your choice. Even flattened out with a glass to very thin, these cookies will spread more still, so be warned, no matter which method you use to shape them, they need to be allowed plenty of room on the cookie sheet. A level measuring teaspoon is a good size for the balls, even though it seems like a pittance and stingy, but they really do get bigger when baked. Go larger, but be prepared for LOTS of room on that cookie sheet. You will need to spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray or use butter or other solid shortening, not oil, to grease the cookie sheet. It is critical to get these cookies loosened up immediately after removing from the oven, or they will become glued to the sheet. Loosen and then allow to rest for a couple of minutes, before removing entirely. If for some reason you are not able to remove them promptly, just put the sheet back in the oven for a minute or two until the cookies warm and soften a bit, allowing you to remove them without much resistance. I found with the flattening with a glass method, these do take about the full amount of time to bake, even though they are much thinner then the stated 1/4". I bake mine until they are turning a shade or two darker than they were when the dough first got hot in the oven after the first few minutes of baking. I also found the edges feel a bit "rubbery" when "poked" when they are about done and the surface starts to appear as more dry. They will be puffed towards the latter part of the baking, but likely will fall before they are quite done. This will produce a wonderfully crispy cookie, no chewy and cakey ginger cookies here. If you want your cookies a bit more spicy, after trying according to recipe the first time, you can up your spices listed in the recipe a bit, or try adding up to a 1/2 tsp. of white pepper. I recommend white pepper, as it tends to be a very fine grind, which will blend in with rest of the spices, rather than large, potentially unsightly and overwhelming, black pepper flakes. Experiment further with grated zest of citrus, such as lemon, orange or lime, if you like. If you are using the rolled ball method, you can roll them in finally ground nuts, such as almonds, as well, cutting down on the sticky dough issue in the process, also might be adaptable for the rolling method. I like to used colored sugar before baking on cookies such as these to give them sparkle, but this being a slightly yellowish brown dough, due to the molasses, some colors just end up looking drab. Larger sugar crystals stand out better, a bright gold yellow is more noticeable. I may try "raw" sugar next time to see how that looks. This recipe might do well with using whole wheat flour, although I haven't tried it yet. One other trick I use, when making the dough, measure the molasses in the same cup ALONG with the shortening at the same time. When the shortening has been leveled to a 1/2 cup, add molasses on top until you reach the 3/4 cup mark. If you only have, or prefer to work with, the exact measurement graduated cup sets, try heating the molasses in the microwave for a few seconds, just until it warms slightly to make it more runny. Either way, you won't waste time trying to get that thick stuff to move out of the cup or have it all end up on your scraper spatula. I hope this helps and encourages Zaar chefs to try this recipe, as it is great and very popular. I need to go now, as I really want another one :)
This recipe was created by Todd Wilbur. It is published in his book entitled "Even More Top Secret Recipes". www.topsecretrecipes.com
We love this recipe and the cookies hold up for a very long time (I was able to ship some to Greece and they were still good even a week after she got them). They don't usually last that long around here though. The dough is VERY sticky and if you use cookie cutters you definitely need lots of flour on everything. I just do teaspoons on a cookie sheet and flatten them to save time. The suggestions in the next review are great.