Recipe Makeover: Ginger Snaps

“What do you mean they aren’t new?”

You know you’re getting older when your childhood comes back in style. First, it was the clothes. That bell bottoms actually became the rage again is beyond comprehension. Then my husband’s high school students began to talk about Bruce Springsteen as if they had discovered him. Finally, my children’s cartoons and toys gave deja vu a whole new meaning. Holly Hobbie, Transformers, Power Rangers, Strawberry Shortcake and Gang… though more hip than the ones I grew up with, they are familiar nonetheless.

For the most part, nostalgia has made these returns good things, but when my daughter and my niece came to me with the Strawberry Shortcake Berry Yummy Cookbook, I knew that whatever recipe they wanted to make would not bring immediate joy to my heart.

Sure enough, they wanted to make Ginger Snap’s Gingersnaps. For folks who might be unaware, there is a difference between gingersnaps and the ginger cookies most people make these days. Ginger cookies are thick, soft, gingery, molasses cookies. Gingersnaps are thin, crisp cookies flavored by ginger. Essentially, the difference is in the molasses to flour ratio, but that difference creates two very distinct cookies.  Gingersnaps are so-called because they are supposed to literally snap when you break them in half, and they were very popular when I was a child.  How to substitute gluten free flour and replace the sugar and dairy without sacrificing the “snap” of the cookie was going to be tricky.

We put our brains together, though, and in the end we created a rather pleasing gingersnap cookie which all the cousins enjoyed immensely.

The original recipe:

2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg, 1/4 cup molasses.

Revising the recipe:

1. Flour: The types and variety of gluten free flours abound, and finding the right combination, along with whether to use potato or arrowroot or tapioca starch, took some work. We finally decided that a mixture of gluten free oat flour, sorghum, and coconut flours with potato starch and a bit of xanthan gum worked the best.

So, I made up a large batch of the following which would yield enough flour to make two batches of the cookie recipe: 1 1/2 cup gluten free oat flour, 1 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 1 cup potato starch, 2 tsp xanthan gum.

2. Sugar: Usually I like to use Agave because I can use so very little of it. For one cup of sugar, I could use a scant 1/4 cup of Agave. Agave, however, would provide moistness which we wanted to avoid for gingersnaps. My second choice would normally be to use stevia, but stevia has a distinct flavor which wouldn’t combine well with the ginger. In the end we decided to use coconut sugar because we were already using the coconut flour, and it would complement the ginger well. In addition, the glycemic index of coconut sugar is very low.

3. Butter: Normally I would replace the butter with a plant-based oil because it’s healthier, but we would have the same problem of adding unwanted moisture. Since we were using the coconut sugar and flours, it might make sense to use coconut oil, but coconut oil wouldn’t provide the spreading of the batter which is necessary for a gingersnap to be thin and crispy. So, finally we decided simply to stick with “butter” and use the vegan, soy-free version offered by Earth balance.

4. Molasses: Since I try to reduce sugars as much as possible, we opted to replace the regular molasses with date molasses. It’s still higher in sugars than I’d like but it has less than regular molasses and at least has the advantage of being made with dates. Plus it’s only a scant 1/4 in the recipe, so overall what we’re adding per cookie isn’t much.

5. Egg: Since we don’t have an issue with eggs (currently) we opted to leave it as is for our version, but I tried making it with ground flaxseed mixed with water as an egg substitute, and the batter worked just as well.

Gluten and Dairy Free Gingersnaps

(makes about three dozen cookies)


2 cups gluten free flour blend*

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup vegan butter

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg or 1 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water

1/4 cup molasses

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon.

3. Cream the butter. Add the coconut sugar and vanilla. Mix well.

4. Add the egg (or flaxseed mixture) and beat well.

5. Slowly add the molasses while mixing on low.

6. Gradually add in the flour in small increments and beat until well combined.

7. Drop dough by level tablespoons onto the cookie sheets, making sure to leave space for them to spread.

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies have browned and spread.

9. Let the cookies cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet. Then remove them with a spatula to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. It’s important that they cool completely, because that’s what will harden them and give you the “snap”.

* Gluten Free Flour Blend:1 1/2 cup gluten free oat flour, 1 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 1 cup potato starch, 2 tsp xanthan gum. (Will make two batches of cookies)  



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