Posted by: highmountainmuse | January 10, 2009

The cookie jar (Old Time Ginger Spice Cookies)

The temperature was a cool, crisp ten below zero this morning when I went out to feed the horses.   Not too terrible, but chilly enough that it felt good to keep the wood cook stove going just a little bit longer today. A good morning to bake another batch of cookies.


The bottomless cookie jar began my first summer here at the ranch, when we were constantly busy building this cabin, taking guests on horseback rides, and operating the guest ranch business.  With a group of folks around all physically working hard, I learned the hard way that you burn more calories just being up here.  Three big, hot meals a day was not enough.  We needed snacks.  And with limited time on my part, it was easier to keep the cookie jar supplied than anything else I could think of!  It worked, and we all became spoiled with knowing there is always something sweet in there…


This morning, I baked my personal favorite:  old time ginger spice cookies.  Talk about making your house smell good… With a crowd here this weekend, chances are they won’t last more than a day or two. But this makes a big batch, and often times I’m able to put a couple of zip lock bags full of these cookies in the freezer to take out when guests arrive.  They are the perfect companion for a cup of black coffee in the middle of the afternoon.  Here’s the recipe.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.


Old Time Ginger Spice Cookies


  1. Cream together: 1 stick of butter, ½ cup shortening (like Crisco), 1 cup white sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar.  I use a big fork to do the creaming, but if you have enough electricity and don’t mind the noise, a blender might be quicker.
  2. Mix in well: 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring, and ½ cup molasses.
  3. Then mix in the dry ingredients all at once:  4 cups flour; 4 teaspoons baking soda; 2 teaspoons each of all the following: salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves; and just a pinch of white pepper.
  4. Mix it up well, then pinch off small amounts to roll into 1” balls, which you then roll in white sugar, and place on the baking sheet.  I can fit about 15 to a baking sheet – they don’t get too big.  And remember, I “double pan” all my baking – that is, I use two baking sheets together for each batch so that I don’t burn the bottoms of the cookies.  That’s what works up here at nearly 10,000 feet.  You may not need this in the low lands.
  5. Bake each batch in a medium hot oven (about 375 if you have a gauge that works) for 8-9 minutes.  The tops get crackly and the cookies start to flatten.  (A timer helps a lot – my old wind-up one just broke and I lost track of time –  I had to donate a batch to the wild birds this morning.) Take out and let cool on a wire rack.

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