Savoring Precious Memories: Favorite Foods – Warm Hearts

Author: Rachel Eckels

The holidays tend to be a time when beautiful food memories resurface, reminding us of cherished times with family, friends, and loved ones. The beauty of special foods is that they connect us to those we have lost, forever residing in our hearts. This season, we can honor our loved ones by preparing their favorite foods that offer us comfort and joy.

For the Holiday season, my grandmother would bake several batches of cookies. One cookie recipe that my son Timothy particularly loved was her gingersnaps, or what he would call “gingerbread cookies.” We used this recipe to create our gingersnaps and our gingerbread girls and boys, which Timothy and his sisters would love to decorate. As Timothy and his sisters grew older, I decided to add just a little boldness to this recipe by upgrading it. 

My family loves adding just a hint of heat to a dish, so I incorporated a hint of cayenne and fresh ginger for a more flavorful gingersnap, and Timothy LOVED them! During his first year at sea, I sent Timothy an assortment of his favorite cookies for the holiday season, and he was so thrilled to have the remixed gingersnaps in the box. It brought him so much comfort and a sense of home.

plate of ginersnaps with taps theme background

ingredients for gingersnaps

I’m sharing our favorite gingersnap recipe this holiday season with the hope that it will bring you as much comfort as it did for Timothy and me.

Gingersnaps Recipe


Ingredients | (80 cookies)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 large egg plus 1 large yolk

1/2 cup granulated sugar


Cooking Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Adjust two oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium/low and continue letting it cook, swirling butter frequently until butter is just beginning to brown (about 2-4 minutes). Transfer browned butter to a large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Let it cool slightly (about 2 minutes).

4. Whisk brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger into the butter mixture until combined. Whisk in egg and yolk until combined. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough until firm (about 1 hour).

5. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Put granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Divide dough into two balls and work with one at a time. Cover and place the second dough into the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Now using heaping teaspoon portions, roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll balls in sugar to coat. Space dough balls evenly on prepared sheets.

6. Place cookie sheet on the upper-middle rack in the heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer partially baked cookies to the lower-middle rack, rotating the cookie sheet. Bake for an additional 15 to 17 minutes longer until the cookies have darker outer edges.

7. Using the parchment paper, slide the baked cookies onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before serving, and enjoy!

Timothy Eckels

Rachel and son

Rachel and plate of gingersnaps

Rachel Eckels is the surviving mother of U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Timothy Eckels, Jr.

Photos courtesy of Rachel Eckels and Suzanne Pinero