Shirley’s Ginger Cookies

Imported from Iowa. Scroll down to see substitutions for a gluten-free version.

Regular sugar for these is fine, but organic sugar taste even better because it is a little closer to brown sugar.

  • ¾ cup butter (if butter is unsalted add a pinch of salt to the dough)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons molasses (I use Brer Rabbit Blackstrap)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • extra sugar in which to roll the cookies

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molasses. Assemble the dry ingredients and sift them into the butter mixture. Put some sugar in a small bowl or saucer. Shape the dough into one inch balls (it will be a little sticky) and roll them in sugar and place them on a backing sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes before removing them to a rack and cooling completely.

Gluten free: substitute 2 cups King Arthur Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Salted Shortbread Cookies

It all began with a recipe from the New York Times that recommended salt on top of chocolate chip cookies.  They are divine.  So when I first made these cookies I felt the needed something so I frosted them with confectioner’s icing.  They were good, but still not right.  The next time I dipped them in chocolate.  Also good, but this time I thought of the Time’s cookies and thought – all that butter and sugar needs a counterpoint. You can make these cookies any of these ways, but I think the salted version is tasty and unique.

Doubles easily.

  • ¾ lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 T. coarse sea salt
  • More sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl sift the flour and the ½ teaspoon of salt.

In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cup of sugar and mix until they are just combined.  Add the vanilla and then the flour mixture until just combined, the remove to a floured surface and shape into a ball.  Flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.   If you chill it much longer than that you will need to let it warm up slightly on the counter so that it will roll out evenly.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters (simple shapes like hearts and circles work best with this dough).

Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle each one with a little pinch of the sea salt and, if desired, some plain or decorative sugar. If you have the time and the room, chill them for 10 minutes before putting them in the oven.  This step helps them hold the edges of the shape a little better, but it’s not imperative.

Bake for 12-16 minutes, until they are brown at the edges.  Leave in the pan for a minute or so and then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Some people like their shortbread very brown, others prefer them light and crumbly – you decide.

Store in an airtight container; they freeze well.