Well it must be fall, as I’m craving my mom’s Vintage Ginger Creams cookies – a soft, spice cookie with a cake-like texture.
Vintage Ginger Creams were named the “The Best Cooky of 1910-1920” in Betty Crocker’s Best Cookies book. The word “cookie” was indeed spelled “cooky” at one time. I’m so grateful to have this book passed down from my grandmother and now part of my vintage cookbook collection. I found during my research that several modifications have been made to the recipe over the years – especially to the frosting. My guess is that over time it was changed to suite a bakers personal taste.
Baker’s tips for Vintage Ginger Creams:
I modified my mom’s version by using real butter instead of shortening. I prefer an all-natural taste over shortening, which has a waxy texture and lack of flavor. Shortening was used in this recipe in the early 20th century. It was readily available, cheaper and shelf-stable, and would yield a baked good with minimal spread. However, if you simply swap out the shortening for butter without chilling the dough, your cookie will spread and you will loose the cake-like, soft texture we love about this cookie. Chilling the scooped dough for 10 minutes is one additional step to ensure less spread.
One really important step I found in the original recipe is to dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. This historic method was used to prevent spread during the baking process, and seems it has been omitted over the years as the recipe is passed down. Although the molasses in the cookie produces a carbon dioxide reaction, I’ve taken an extra step to modify the original recipe by adding 1 T. of white vinegar to the hot water and baking soda to ensure even more “cake-like” lift.
Be sure to use good quality natural molasses. I used Grandma’s brand original, however, for more robust flavor, use Grandma’s robust blend.
quality spices matter:
I’ve also modified the original recipe by adding a bit more of the spices to ensure a warm, bold taste. I purchase spices pre-ground in bulk. My favorite spices are Frontier Spices all natural and organic if available. These spices have a much deeper flavor than conventional spices found in the grocery store.
Always use light-colored, aluminum cookie sheet. I use Nordic Ware aluminum 18×13 half-sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Aluminum is best for distributing and reflecting even heat during the baking process. Dark cookie sheets conduct more heat off the surface, which may lead to your baked goods to burn or darken on the edges before they are fully cooked.
The recipe calls for only 1 egg, but I’ve added an extra white to help produce a “cake-like” crumb.
The original cookie recipe in Betty Crocker’s book suggests using her “Easy Creamy Icing” which is 1 c. confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 1/2 T. cream or water. My mom’s recipe is a more like a rich American buttercream using 2 T. butter, 2-3 T. cream, pinch of salt, and 1 tsp. vanilla. I’ve modified the frosting recipe to be a little less sweet.
Vintage Ginger Creams
- 1/3 c. unsalted butter room temp
- 1/2 c. molasses
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg white
- 1/2 c. hot water (Add baking soda & vinegar)
- 1 tsp. baking soda dissolve in hot water
- 1 T. vinegar dissolve in hot water
- 2 c. unbleached flour
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. clove
- 4 T. unsalted butter room temp
- 1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
- 1 egg white
- 2 T. cream or milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Mix together butter, molasses, sugar, and egg.
- Whisk together dry ingredients and add to batter.
- Mix together hot water, baking soda, and vinegar and add to batter.
- Chill the dough for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a small cookie scoop and drop dough on baking sheet and chill in fridge for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes.
- Let cookies cool and then frost. Store in a container.