I still remember the first time I made these ~18 years ago. They were one of the first cookie recipes my sister and I attempted, and it was a near disaster. Things got off to a bad start when I stuck my nose where it had no business being – in the very first jar of molasses ever brought into our house – and took a big whiff. Pain stabbed my eyeballs as I stumbled backwards, gasping. The stuff was STRONG. By the end of the evening, the smell permeated the house. Our clothes. Our hair. Everything. I could barely look at our four batches of cookies without feeling sick. Everyone who ate the cookies raved about their spiciness and butteriness though and, curiously enough, kept going back for more. Against my better judgement, I nibbled gingerly (pun intended!) on one to see what the big deal was. Even through a wave of nausea, I could tell they were something special; They were the snappiest gingersnaps I had ever eaten. I think I got my first migraine that night.
Despite the fact that I didn’t go near this recipe again or touch molasses anything for years afterwards, I held on to this recipe and even started making it again. If that’s not a testament to the cookie, I don’t know what is. A generous amount of fresh ginger complements the darkness of the molasses really nicely; It gives the cookie incredible bite, and leaves a gentle heat in your mouth even after the cookie is gone.
Depending on your mood/preference, the recipe can be manipulated to create thinner, crisp cookies or thicker, softer cookies. For thinner, crisper cookies, use the full amount of butter called for, and mix the dough thoroughly. For thicker, softer cookies, cut a couple tablespoons of butter and be extra careful about not over-mixing the flour into the dough – mix just until the flour is incorporated, maybe even *just* under.