Thursday, November 05, 2009
The drawbacks to a long distance relationship are pretty obvious. There is the travel (and related expense), the long lonely nights, the impatience, and the negotiation of time zones. There are emails to be taken out of context, arguments to snowball without the benefit of daily conversation, and a thousand other difficulties. But there are also benefits. The evening-long phone calls, the romantic reunion, and the fondness that grows for an absent heart. And the care packages.
Many years ago, I had a courtship which began with a care package. Inside the small box was mix CD full of poignant songs, and a handful of biscuits for my dog. What more does a girl need? (Emotional compatibility, it turns out, but that's another story.) I have also sent out my share of care packages into the postal ether, to woo partners or to help friends out through rough times. I have sent packages that say "Sorry your boyfriend dumped you," or "I hope you manage to finish your dissertation." Sometimes there have been mix CDs (or, back in the day, mix tapes), sometimes there have been Polaroids of my dog in some thematically relevant costume, and once or twice there have been temporary tattoos. But whatever the occasion and composition, there's one constant: there are always cookies.
This particular recipe has long been my care-package standard. It was passed on by a college friend from her stepfather, on a hand-written page with the final instruction to "eat until sick." The page is now grease-stained and starting to wear at the edges, but I'm still not tired of these gingersnaps. They're sharp with ginger and deeply-flavored with molasses, and have an adorable series of crannies and fissures. But it's the texture I like best. They can be soft and gooey, or cooked longer for more of a "snap." And they store remarkably well, making them ideal to send to your friends, wherever the postal service finds them.
adapted by my friend Jessica's late stepfather
makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on size
3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground ginger (and a bit more, if you like them spicy)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
generous pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, grease or line several cookie sheets.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the molasses. Beat until well combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, dried ginger, cinnamon and salt. Fold these dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined (i.e. until the streaks of dry ingredients just disappear). Form the dough into 3/4 round balls, and place on cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes. If you want gooey cookies, remove from the oven and place on a rack when they can just barely hold their shape enough for you to remove them (a touch under 12 minutes). For crisp snappy cookies, bake until the cookie firmly holds its shape when removed from the sheet (13+ minutes). Remove to a rack to cool. The cookies will have puffed in the oven, but will sink and flatten as they cool down. Eat until sick.