January 21, 2011
Last weekend, I made three recipes featured in the current (February/March 2011) issue of Cook's Country, all written by the same author. I've already discussed two of these, Heavenly Hots and Easy Chocolate Pudding. The third recipe is Fairy Gingerbread Cookies.
The author, Erika Bruce, discusses how she found the recipe hers is based upon in a classic cookbook from the late 1800s, and notes that at one time, Fairy Gingerbread was quite popular, especially in Boston. Having made this, I can see why. What's puzzling is why it ever faded into obscurity, because these are truly wonderful cookies. The cover blurb refers to Fairy Gingerbread as "the best, most delicate ginger cookie we've ever tasted." The "we" in that quote refers to the America's Test Kitchen staff, but after trying this, it applies just as much to Juli and me.
These cookies are incredibly delicate... thin wafers that melt in your mouth, and which are prone to shattering when you bite them. Despite the physical delicacy, Fairy Gingerbread Cookies pack truly potent ginger flavor, thanks to the combination of powdered ginger and grated fresh ginger.
The recipe itself is pretty straightforward. The difficult part of making these has to do with how you end up with such an incredibly thin, crunchy cookie: You spread a pretty small amount of dough thinly enough to cover a cookie sheet. I found this pretty tough, possibly because I didn't have an offset spatula, which is the recommended tool. I've since bought an offset spatula, because these were so good that I'm planning to make them again soon.
The cookies bake for a little while in fairly low heat (325 degrees). Immediately upon removing a sheet from the oven, you have to score the sheet in servings. This is necessary because once they cool, they're too brittle to cut, and they're so thin, it doesn't take long at all for them to cool. A few minutes later, you break the sheet apart to individual cookies.
The important fact about these cookies, though, is that they are just plain wonderful. Crispy, delicious... these are truly like no other sort of cookie I've ever had, and they are among the very best cookies I've ever eaten. This recipe gets my highest recommendation. If you try these out, you will be glad you did. I guarantee it.