Chewy Gingersnap Cookies (Nonfat)
If you have been hanging out here for some time you may be familiar with our
obsession fascination with a certain triple ginger cookie from Trader Joe’s. Mixed into peachy kefir ice cream, crushed beneath a bright key lime pie, or supporting an oozing toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate- we can’t live without a stash of ginger cookies! You can imagine my dismay when I realized that once my parents moved nearby, our regular care packages from Trader Joe’s would disappear along with the steady supply of ginger cookies.
This desperate situation called for action and I immediately began trying different recipes in an attempt to recreate our favorite cookie. Too soft, too hard, not enough ginger; I felt a bit like Goldilocks as I searched for the perfect recipe. Nothing turned out like I wanted and I began to think we may have to adjust to a life without ginger cookies.
Then, while reading “Ready for Dessert“, I saw a photo of ginger cookies that stopped me in my tracks. Big chunks of ginger filled chewy brown cookies with cracked tops and a dusting of sugar. Now these were ginger cookies! I decided not to let the fact that they are nonfat deter me (usually I think nonfat = not good) and got busy making cookies.
As I mixed the dough I could tell that this recipe had the right amount of substance and spice. A heady aroma of ginger and molasses wafted up from the mixer, making my mouth water with anticipation. I called my Dad to let him know that hot cookies would be coming out of the oven and he was at the door in less than ten minutes. The first batch barely made it to the cooling rack before several cookies disappeared. Warm, chewy, and filled with a delightful balance of ginger and cinnamon these were the best ginger cookies yet. When Mr. B arrived home (our official ginger cookie fiend) he confirmed that David’s recipe not only beat out my other attempts, but far surpassed our Trader Joe’s favorite. This is a recipe that belongs on your cooking ‘speed dial’. Make it fast, make it often, and share with friends!
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons plus a big pinch ground cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup mild molasses (I used strong because we like a pronounced molasses flavor.)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger (or Ginger Chips)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (for dusting)
Assemble the dry ingredients. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, 2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and pepper. If your pepper gets caught in the sieve simply tap it out into the bowl.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses for 5 minutes on medium speed. Stop the mixer every few minutes and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. After 5 minutes, add the egg whites and continue to beat for 1 minute. Turn down the mixer to the lowest speed and slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing until they are totally incorporated into the wet ingredients. Turn up the speed on the mixer to medium and mix for 1 minute more. Turn off the mixer, remove the paddle, and stir in the candied ginger by hand. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until the dough is firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.
While the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two standard baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using a small bowl, stir together the remaining pinch of cinnamon and the granulated sugar.
Use a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop or two spoons to shape the dough into round, walnut size balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon each). Drop the ball of dough into the cinnamon sugar mixture and roll it around until it is covered on all sides. Use your hands to shape the dough into a round ball if needed. The dough is quite sticky, but this is normal, so don’t worry if they balls are not perfect spheres. Set the balls of dough about 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Return any unused dough to the refrigerator while the first batch bakes.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the cookies are just barely set in the centers, about 13 minutes. Rotate the sheets half-way through baking if necessary to provide even cooking. If you want extra chewy cookies, lightly press down on the cookies with a spatula to flatten them halfway through baking. (I did not do this and found that they were plenty chewy.) Let the cookies cool on the sheets until they are firm enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
The cookies will keep in an air-tight container for 3-5 days (if they last that long!) You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for 2 months.