Cookies. I know. They are everywhere and unavoidable at this time of year. Kind of like Halloween candy right around Halloween. Our local UPS store had Halloween candy this year. Yes, the UPS store.
Anyway, you may be sweeted out, or at least cookie'd out by now, but I thought I would give one more cookie recipe before we hit 2009. Ginger cookies suffer from never quite being right, at least in my book. I want them to be just the slightest bit chewy, definitely not crunchy, and I want the flavor to be very warm with lots of molasses and spices. So often they suffer from being too flat and with just a very sweet taste instead of the complexity that good spices bring.
I think Ina Garten has come pretty darn close. These cookies have lots of candied ginger in them which gives them a really nice spice and they have a good dose of molasses too. They are not for the faint of heart, but if you love ginger, these may be the ones for you.
Let's talk about ginger. Most grocery stores will have candied ginger in the baking aisle. It can be very fibrous and difficult to cut (and you want really small pieces in these cookies) so, if you can, see how soft it is and get the freshest bag possible. If you live near a Trader Joe's, by all means get your ginger there. It comes in little cubes and is much easier to cut and stores much better than the slabs.
Ultimate Ginger Cookie
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Cooks at Home
Makes about 16 cookies
Just like for the party I catered, I rolled 1/3 of these in red sanding sugar, 1/3 in green sanding sugar, and 1/3 in vanilla sugar. You can, of course, just use regular sugar. I did follow Garten's advice of lining the sheets with parchment paper because there is no butter in the recipe.
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt ad then combine the mixture with a spoon. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. (DN: Measure the oil first, then the molasses. That way, the molasses will just run right out of the measuring cup, because it has been greased by the oil.) Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 minute more. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.
Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With our hands, roll each cookie into a 2 inch ball and roll the ball in the sugar of your choice. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be cracked on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.