This recipe and I have a history. Last year (and this year too), I helped a good friend from high school make these cookies. Their family isn’t big into baking, so they tend to make cookies only once a year. But that once a year…they make a LOT.
These cookies are truly one of my favorites, so I got the recipe from her. They refer to it as “the mongo recipe” because of how many cookies it makes (and how much of each ingredient!!). I have since made fudge with her that used no less that NINE cups of sugar and three cups of butter-as well as other massive quantities of ingredients!
Now, in my family, if a recipe says “butter” or “shortening”, you never use butter or shortening. Ever. You use margarine sticks. Why? Because they’re cheaper than butter and we just don’t do shortening. So, when this recipe called for shortening, we didn’t even consider using actual shortening, but proceeded to sub in margarine as usual.
The first time I made these, it failed. miserably. They did not set up at all. Luckily, we only had 1/4 of a batch to dispose of. After a bit of troubleshooting, we decided that maybe the problem was that I hadn’t used the “mongo” recipe…so we proceeded to make another batch with the mongo recipe. And they failed. Again. This time, there were many, many subpar cookies to get rid of. I distinctly remember driving around town one night dropping plates of cookies off at my friends’ houses just so we wouldn’t have to eat all of them.
After one more failed try, we opted to try the recipe with shortening instead of butter. And it worked! Unfortunately, after three failed batches, we were beyond sick of eating gingersnap cookies, so we gave most of that last batch away too.
That was last year.
This year, we originally decided not to make them as a part of our holiday baking. My mom didn’t like them. She thought they were boring. So we didn’t. But then, I helped that same friend make them during their annual cookie making extravaganza. When I got home, I promptly decided to make some of our own.
This year, the gingersnap making went (mostly) smoothly. I made a half a recipe-which still made a TON. Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I need to point out that I didn’t actually have 1/2 a cup of molasses…so we actually used 1/4 cup molasses and 1/4 cup light corn syrup-and it tasted fine! (there’s a longer story here, but this post is already too long) And, my mom ended up liking them (which may have had something to do with the fact that we only made one batch instead of the four or five of last year. So much, in fact, that she asked me for the recipe!
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons ginger
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/5 cups shortening
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons margarine (softened)
1 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring (optional)
- Cream the shortening and sugar together with a mixer.
- Add the eggs and molasses
- Combine all of the other dry ingredients except the flour in a separate bowl, and add them to the mixture.
- Gradually add in the flour.
- Mix well.
- Roll the dough into 1 in. balls
- Dip the balls in sugar (I recommend putting sugar in a bowl and rolling the formed ball around in it until covered).
- Use the bottom of a cup to gently flatten the ball into a circle (see picture).
- Bake at 375 for 6 minutes or until done
- Once baked, transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- Using an electric mixer, mix all of the ingredients together.
- Add food coloring if desired.
- Spread on cooled cookies.
- Makes enough to frost about half a batch.