This is the year that my sibs and I finally cried uncle and decided to suspend holiday giving between our families. We did this for a couple of reasons. First, all of our kids are now teens and are basically impossible to shop for, preferring to receive cold-hard cash (large denominations, please) in lieu of any creative gift idea we stupid adults might arrive at on our own. Second, we stupid adults are so fortunate as to have all that we need or want, and so the whole idea of braving the hordes of holiday shoppers to buy token offerings seemed a bit nutty to us all. We decided instead (full credit given here to my brother) to arrange a cookie swap between our three families, with each sending the other 4-5 dozen cookies of various types.
It was such a brilliant idea that I wish it were mine.
Unfortunately, this swap was not going to be as easy as pulling together my favorite Christmas cookie recipes and firing off a few dozen. Why? Because I've never been big on baking holiday cookies and didn't have a deep reservoir of trusted recipes to rifle through. Instead, I turned to one of my most trusted sources, Bon Appétit magazine to see what they had to say on the subject. As luck would have it they had a delicious looking slide show of holiday treats on their website, and I easily found four "new" recipes to try for our part of the swap.
Realizing the strategic advantage of first baker status (I didn't want to be in the position of making cookies for them that they had already made for me), I spent a good part of a Saturday a few weeks back baking off the following: Cappuccino Brownies, Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Mint Cookies, and my favorite of the four, these Chewy Ginger Cookies.
I'm sure I'll post the others soon, though I didn't manage to get shots of the brownies so I'll need to make another batch of them (I wonder what Freud would say about that?), but our focus today is all laser-like on the best ginger-molasses cookies I've ever had. I'm a bit of a nut for ginger cookies, my wife even more so, and I can tell you that these are the perfect ginger cookie. They are chewy in the center with a slight crispness at the edge, have a wonderful crunch from the sanding sugar, a dark richness from the blackstrap molasses, and a depth of flavor from three types of ginger that can't be beat.
Santa would die for a plate of these with some cold milk on Christmas Eve, so why don't you run along now and bake him some.
Ho-Ho-Ho – Steve
Chewy Ginger Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat free)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup blackstrap (robust) molasses
- 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 cup raw or sanding sugar
- Arrange racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350℉. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar, shortening, and butter in a large bowl, scraping down sides halfway through beating, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add egg, molasses, grated ginger, and vanilla; beat just to blend. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger (dough will be very soft and sticky).
- Place raw sugar in a shallow bowl. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out dough. Using a second spoon, scoop dough from tablespoon measure into bowl with raw sugar; turn to coat well. Roll into ball. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with half of remaining dough and sugar, spacing balls 1 1/2" apart.
- Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and centers appear cracked, 10–12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar, using cooled baking sheets and new parchment.