Over the holidays, the great cookie debate inevitably flares. In this eternal debate, I always choose crisp over chewy. For me, the snap and crunch of a cookie matters as much as its flavor. But if chewy cookies are your thing, do read on.
What determines if a cookie will be crisp or chewy? Baking involves specific and predictable interactions. Texture is affected by several ingredients, but the kind and amounts of sweetener and shortening in a recipe matter particularly. Baking time makes a difference, too. These Gingersnaps come out crisp if you bake them the full time, slightly chewy in the center when you give them a minute or two less.
Brown sugar tends to make a softer cookie than white sugar because it contains more moisture. Honey and agave even more so. Here, white sugar, plus a touch of molasses, gives the warm flavor of brown sugar but the crispness associated with white sugar.
Shortening is the ultimate determining factor in Gingersnaps. Using a non-dairy stick shortening gives them serious snap. The one I use contains no trans-fats or additives; it is a blend of oils. Using a soft tub spread instead, which you can do, gives a softer result. With it, these cookies come out of the oven crispish, then turn chewy when they sit overnight. If you want this, note that the batter will be too soft to shape into balls. It needs to be dropped from a spoon onto your baking sheet. Both shortenings make cookies with the same warm, zingy flavor, so bake them to please your preference.
Either way, these cookies keep well for a week and are great for sharing at a holiday cookie swap.
P.S. To make them look especially festive, sprinkle a pinch of red, green or multicolor sugar onto the wet frosting.
Dana Jacobi is author of "12 Best Foods Cookbook" and contributor to American Institute for Cancer Research's "New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life."