December 12, 2009

Ginger Buttons

The holidays are here! Colorful lights, gingerbread houses, Santa hats, Christmas music, peppermint hot chocolate... I love love love the holiday season. Sadly though, I must constrain my holiday joy to concentrate on studying for my finals. Yeah... it's finals week here at UC Berkeley, which started today and ends next Friday. But, that also means that there's only one more week till winter break!

One thing I'm looking forward to right now is my annual Christmas cookie marathon. I've already got my cookie list all planned out (it's what I do during my study breaks) and a holiday playlist ready to go. So from 12/21-12/25, look forward to seeing five days of cookie posts as I bake each day from morning to way past my bedtime, cramming in as many cookie varieties as I can before Christmas day, when I'll be handing boxes of them out to friends and family.

But today, here's a recipe for a crunchy, ginger cookie perfect for snacking on during the holidays, whether you're cramming for finals or watching holiday specials on TV or sipping hot chocolate in front of a cozy fire. These buttons are also perfect for the calorie conscious; the cookies are fairly light in calories, around 40 calories each, with a minimal amount of butter (opposed to the usual 1-2 sticks of butter in regular ginger snaps) and egg whites instead of whole eggs. If you haven't started yet on your holiday baking, these darling buttons would be a great addition to your cookie collection.

Light Ginger Buttons
adapted from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim's Perfect Light Desserts

1 2/3 cups flour
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites

Cream the butter with the two sugars. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl: the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a dough forms. Gather the dough together and split the mound in two.

Place each half of dough on a separate sheet of plastic wrap. Form the halves into long cylindrical logs 1 inch in diameter. Now either refrigerate them for one hour or freeze them for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350°F. When the dough is firm, remove the logs from the fridge. With a sharp knife, slice each log into 1/4 inch thick coins (I got around 27 per log).

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place your cookies onto the sheets. If you want your cookies button-shaped, right now, with the flat end of a toothpick, poke four holes in the center of each cookie to resemble a button (the rest of the button shaping will take place after baking). Now bake your cookies for 15-20 minutes.
Making Buttons

Once your cookies are out of the oven, it is time to make them look like buttons. Now I don't actually have a circular cookie cutter smaller than 1 inch, so I had to get creative for the circular rim for my buttons (but if you have one, go ahead and use it). Instead, I pulled off that piece of plastic left behind on a water bottle when you twist off the cap and used it as a "cookie cutter." So with your cookies still warm, push the non-jagged side of the plastic band into each cookie, creating a circular indentation around the cookie rims.

Next, define and enlarge the four holes you made earlier with the flat size of a bamboo skewer. If you want to be able to string thread through these holes, make sure to press through the cookies as you make the holes. Work quickly because the "button-marks" will be a lot more difficult to make once the cookies are cool. I like to bake my cookies in batches so I can shape one portion of the cookies as another sheet is baking. Or, get a family member or friend to help out; two sets of hands are faster than one. Once done shaping, let the cookies cool on a rack. Then enjoy!

Makes 54 cookies.

NOTE: These cookies really are crunchy. So if serving to someone with weak teeth or braces, please warn them, and maybe include a cup of milk or hot chocolate for dunking before consumption :).


  1. How should I tweak this if I want them soft and chewy? ^^;

    1. Place in airtight container with a slice of bread. Should work fine.

  2. StephwhY: Hehe, thanks Steph :).

    Anonymous: That's an interesting question! But unfortunately I don't really have an answer. My best advice would be to search for a different recipe.

    This recipe really wasn't meant to be soft and chewy. I know because I had a batch that was underbaked (that's usually how I make my cookies soft and chewy) but it wasn't soft and chewy, more like tough (and chewy). I think it's because this is a "light" recipe, so it's missing the necessary fat (more butter and egg yolks) to produce a soft cookie.

    But, if you can wait, in 1.5 weeks (when I'm done with finals and can start my holiday baking spree), I'll be sharing my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe that is indeed soft and chewy.

  3. These are such cute cookies! I can't wait to make them and i'll look forward to your future cookie-marathon-posts! Oh yea, just wondering if you have kitchens at UC Berkeley to cook/bake? or are you in an apt because i go to UCLA but we don't have kitchens unless we're in apts which makes me sad :(

  4. these are so darn cute! i have to make them...great idea and really cute pics

  5. Just plain cute and ingenious! Lovely post, and such a great idea! Pam

  6. Michelle: Thanks! In general, no, we don't have kitchens at Cal. I live in an apartment, so I do have my own kitchen. But in the dorms, I know that somewhere in each dorm building, there's a community kitchen. But hey, it's winter break at UCLA, right? Time to take advantage of having an actual kitchen at home :D.

    kate: Thank you!

    jules and ruby: Hehe, thanks. They're definitely fun to make.

    The Gypsy Chef: Thanks Pam!

  7. Adorable! What a cute blog you have. I'm also in love with your turtle 'meron-pan'! :)

  8. I love how ingenious you were with the smaller cookie cutter. What a great solution in a pinch. And these cookies are just adorable. Making ordinary things into cookies are always a winner in my book. Great job!

  9. How could are those? I would use them as buttons on gifts!

  10. Too freaking cute! I wish I were that creative. I love the drawing! Good luck on your finals.

  11. Really brilliant use of refuse!!!! They are beyond cute. Thanks for the inspiration and great picture!

  12. way too adorable!!! my guess is they wouldn't hold theier shape if they were soft/chewy though... (to poster above)

  13. chicky*bits: Thank you! Turtle-shaped bread :).

    Christina and Jacob: Thanks :D. I realized that I had no small cookie cutter so I just walked around the house poking around, searching for something with a circular edge but would also allow the cookie to be pushed through. My family was like... what are you doing?

    veggie wedgie: haha, that would be cute, like a little edible ornament.

    Memória: Aw, thanks for the good wishes.

    lostpastremembered: Yup, reusing things, even better than recycling them :D.

    Tia: Thanks! That is a definite possibility, not as sturdy.

  14. A box of these would be the perfect companion gift to the Coraline DVD. Might have to make that for my nephews.

  15. Stroudster B: Interesting idea. I actually have no idea what Coraline is about, but I do remember from the movie trailer that her parents had BUTTON eyes, hehe.

  16. I've never seen a gingersnap recipe that doesn't use molasses before, so this is neat!

  17. Anonymous: The lack of molasses makes the ginger taste even more apparent IMO. I found that really interesting as well.

  18. Hi!
    Can someone please explain me what the t and T means by the ingredients? Teaspoon? This cookie is so inspiring and I'd like to try it.

  19. Livia: t is teaspoon and T is tablespoon

  20. I baked them yesterday. But I couldn't shape the cookies after baking, had to do it before. Also the baking time was shorter by me only 5-8 minutes (I have a gas cooker, maybe that's why); also I made it entirely with brown sugar and used about half cup of it. Still delicious!
    If you'd like to, take a look:

    Thanks again!

  21. Livia: Yay, thanks for sharing your results! I'm glad it worked out in the end!

  22. Are they so crunchy that it's hard to take a bite of? Or is it just slightly crunchy?

  23. monicalee7: It's hard crunchy, not slightly crunchy.

  24. these are so cool! just one question though, did you use ginger powder for your recipe, or actual ginger?

  25. Anonymous: I used ginger powder, not fresh ginger.