Bing gets me going



I was thinking the other day about folks who live down south. They are accustomed to a holiday season without snow. True, there have been plenty of holiday seasons up north where we had no snow, but we still had the fun of seeing our breath on a chilly winter morning, or hugging a friend just in from the cold and feeling their icy cheek against ours.

Sounds poetic, but deep down all I’m really thinking about is my personal comfort (natch!). I perspire when the temperature goes above fifty degrees; my Mother refers to me as a Polar Bear. Yes, I’m certainly as pale as a Polar Bear, and, yes, I’m the guy who opens his windows in the middle of winter—you simply have to here in New York because our apartments are all heated by steam heat. (Bob Fosse fans should now snap their fingers a couple times, and tilt their bowlers over their eyes.)

One year while “trapped” in hot, sunny Arizona, Irving Berlin coped with a palm tree encrusted holiday season by penning “White Christmas”—the best selling single of all time. While I don’t have orange and palm trees swaying outside my window (as Berlin mentions in the usually unsung verse to the song) it is sixty-five degrees as I write this, and I am willing myself to feel the holiday spirit. (The dozens of Cyber Monday offers in my Inbox don’t seem to be doing the trick.)

My sure fire remedy? Queue up Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” album, and start baking Christmas cookies. There now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? (I also placed a snowflake wallpaper on the screen of my phone. It helps.)

Anyway, allow me to introduce my first cookie of the season, the Gingerdoodle. As you can tell from the name, it is built on the chassis of the famous Snickerdoodle. Snickerdoodles are fine, but I always think they are Sugar Cookies with yearnings for greater things. With the Gingerdoodle, their ambitions have been fulfilled. (You think I’m crazy for ascribing ambition to a cookie?) All I have done is take a basic Snickerdoodle and add a bit of spice, heat, and texture. It is still a soft, somewhat cakey cookie, but, as Ina Garten would say, “…with the volume turned up.”

I’ve never understood the Christmas-time passion for sugar cookies or the big cheap tins of “Danish Butter Cookies” –many of which have never been within miles of Copenhagen. Even when decorated, sugar cookies tend to be a bit transparent in flavor, meaning you can roll them around on your tongue as much as you’d like but you’ll never taste anything more than flour, butter, and sugar. The “Danish” cookies usually hint at a bit of cardamom, which is not a bad idea, but it’s usually executed in a sleepy way.

I demand more, darn it. Give me complexity. Give me a bit of surprise. Make me want to come back for more. Throw in some chocolate if you can, and I’ll be abuzz with the holiday spirit. The Gingerdoodle is a chocolate-free zone so we’ll have to look elsewhere for our choco-fix. That’s what the holiday color foils on Hershey’s Kisses are for…this week.

The basic Snickerdoodle is only mildly spiced with a wisp of cinnamon. The overall effect is like cinnamon toast—this, of course, is not a bad thing at all. But here’s my question: this time of year, why do you bake cookies? Usually you give them to friends or coworkers, or share them in cookie swaps. Don’t you want yours to stand out a bit? Tut, tut, baking holiday cookies is not the time to follow the pack. So let’s bake a cookie that will stand above the crowd, shall we?

First let’s take a look at the spice in the Snickerdoodle. A mere two teaspoons of cinnamon is added to spice up a very large batch of cookie dough. It’s not even added to the dough, it is sprinkled on the outside before baking. I’ve added an additional two teaspoons to the dough, plus the heat of two teaspoons (or more if you like) of ground ginger, the fragrance of ground cloves, and the kick of a generous half cup of chopped crystallized ginger. The latter also adds little dots of sugary chew to the finished cookie.

As I mentioned, these are a soft, cakey cookie, but I like a little crunch, so the cookies are made with and sprinkled with demerara sugar, the large grain, honey-brown sugar. (Layers: it’s like a nice cashmere sweater over a really good white shirt.)

As they bake they will fill your home with spiced holiday scents that would turn a Williams-Sonoma holiday candle green with envy.

Luckily, green is a holiday color…


Here’s the recipe for the Gingerdoodle.


Here’s the link to the Butter Flour Eggs Holiday Cookie Baking Primer 101. It also includes a recipe for Chocolate Pepper Cookies and some technique and equipment suggestions. Don’t start your holiday baking without it!


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Have yourself a merry little Tweet

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