I'm at my parent's house for the holidays and there is an unbelievable quantity of snow. Not to mention how damn cold it is. So my mother and I stayed indoors yesterday and made a couple really good cookies. My mom has a stand mixer so these were an easier time to make than they would have been just by hand.
First we tried to make some gingersnaps because Mom found a recipe on the flipside of a lid that was on a container of crystallized ginger. We made a few modifications. First beat together 3/4 cup of softened butter with 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup molasses. Dump in 1 egg and beat it into the mixture. Mix 2 teaspoons baking soda really well with 2 cups flour, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, at least 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and about 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.
Here is a little one-act play that I like to call Mom's Old Cloves:
Mom, brandishing a dusty aquamarine canister: "I have ground cloves!"
Me: "How old are those?"
Mom: "They were a wedding shower present!"
Me, to the dog: "Wedding shower present? Her wedding shower?"
My mother has been married for 33 years. Moving on.
Dump the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture and beat in along with 1/2 cup of crystallized ginger that you have cut up into teeny chunks. Mix it all up really well. If it's too goopy for you to mess with you can refrigerate it for half an hour to make it easier to handle. We just went ahead and rolled it into 1" balls and put them on baking sheets. Don't squish them down. My mom kept doing that and I had to slap her hands to make her quit. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Let them cool on racks. They'll be more crispy if you chill the dough before baking but we liked them soft.
We also made a shortbread recipe that mom found in the local paper, which I am including here because I have never made shortbread before. Mix in a large bowl 2 1/4 cup flour with 3/4 cup slivered almonds, 3 tablespoons poppyseeds, and 1/2 teaspoon salt (Mom: "I have never heard of poppyseeds and almonds together!"). In another bowl, hopefully the workbowl of your supersweet KitchenAid mixer but it's OK if it's not, add together 2 sticks of softened butter, 1 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons honey. Beat together until fluffy, then add 2 egg yolks and the zest from 2 oranges (my mom's zester SUCKS, it is not up to Microplane standards AT ALL. That is what she is getting for her birthday, now that I know the sad state of affairs). Beat in until smooth. Slowly add in your flour/poppyseed/almond mixture until it has all been fully incorporated. Here's the fun part. Split your dough in two and plop each half onto a sheet of wax paper. Roll it and shape it to form a 12" rectangular log. Wrap it up in the wax paper and stick it in the fridge for 2 hours or more (my mother found this directive ridiculous and so we just stuck it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. I'm pretty sure that worked just fine too, so do whichever works better for your schedule). Haul it out of fridge or freezer and slice the logs into thin, 1/8" slices. Bake them on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until the edges are golden brown (about 12-15 minutes). You don't want them to brown all over, just the edges. The bottoms will be lightly golden as well. Cool on racks. The recipe also indicated a simple glaze (whisk 1 cup powdered sugar with vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk) for the edges and to decorate with festive suagr sprinkles, but I think these are actually better without any embellishment. Maybe if you added citrus to the glaze to make it a little piquant and referential, and definitely skip the sprinkles. Our container of red and green jimmies was seriously from the year I was born.