Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12 Cookies of Christmas: Day 2 ~ Ginger Sugar Cookies

I admit it ~ I'm a granny at heart. Always have been. I'm in my 30s, but the joke in my family is that I've been 50 since I was 10. (I use the word "joke" loosely.) Maybe that's why I'm so attracted to the old-fashioned classics in the Gourmet faves lineup, like these Ginger Sugar Cookies. In making their picks, both of my kids skipped over these, opting for fancier, nuttier, chocolatier dainties. But there's something about a good, sturdy ginger cookie that just calls to me.

I love the simplicity of these cookies ~ not just because they're so easy to put together (though I'll be frank: easy does have a certain appeal when you're baking 12 types of cookies in 12 days). What I appreciate most about these is their subtlety. They look earnest, homey, unassuming. But the flavors of the individual spices, uneclipsed by nuts or chocolate, really emerge. I could taste the butter in these, the cinnamon, the ginger. The molasses was a fainter note, which I liked, as I'm not a big fan of strong molasses flavor.

The texture? Perfect. And also deceptively complex. The bottom was firm and crunchy, the interior was tender, the top was crisp and sweet. This cookie was everything I wanted it to be ~ a myth buster of a cookie. A don't-judge-a-granny-by-her-gray-hair* cookie.

Seriously, if things stay this good for the next 10 days, I'm in big trouble. I ate cookies for breakfast this morning.

Ginger Sugar Cookies

~Adapted from Gourmet magazine, March 1965, available online here
  • 3/4 cup butter or shortening (I used butter)

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1 egg (I used large)

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 2 1/4 cups flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Sugar for rolling (I used turbinado)

  1. Cream butter and gradually add brown sugar. Continue to beat until fluffy.

  2. Add egg and molasses to butter mixture. Beat until evenly blended.

  3. Combine flour with baking soda, spices, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough into small balls and dip the tops into sugar. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with butter. Place balls of dough at least 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with 2 or 3 drops of water and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, until firm.

  5. Let sit on baking sheet for 1 minutes, then remove to racks to cool.

I got 32 cookies from this recipe.

Recipe Notes:

  • I used a #40 scoop to make these, which made shaping the dough balls really easy.

  • I originally planned to ice these with a lemon butter icing, but they were so pretty as is, I decided against it. Maybe next time.

  • I'm not exactly sure why the cookies need to be sprinkled with water (if you know, drop me a comment!), but the easiest way to do this, I found, is to dip your fingertips in water and then flick a few drops onto each cookie.

  • I used turbinado sugar to roll the tops of the dough balls in ~ I think this provided the perfect texture. You could use any type of coarse sugar, but even granulated sugar would work. I'd leave them plain if you intend to frost or glaze them.

Don't forget to check out the other baking bloggers in our little cookie cadre: Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants, and Judy of No Fear Entertaining.

*Just remember this axiom: "Ashes on the roof means a fire's burning hot in the stove."


Maureen said...

They do look perfect for a breakfast. Molasses is healthy so...

I had a chance to buy a set of varied scoops out in CA and hesitated. Oh the regret!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Those are so pretty. I'm with you on the frosting. It probably wasn't necessary! Why did you omit the cloves?

Lore said...

I'm loving the looks of these! And the idea of combining ginger with cinnamon make my taste buds dance :D.

Sandy Smith said...

~Maureen: Oh good, now I feel better about eating cookies first thing in the a.m.! Too bad about the scoops . . . I use mine for everything! I would put them on my wishlist if I were you! :)

~Judy: Thank you! I omitted the cloves because I only had whole cloves and didn't want to spice up my coffee grinder last night. But I'd probably have put them in if I'd had ground cloves on hand. :)

~Lore: Thanks! They really are special. I love the combo of ginger and cinnamon too!

glamah16 said...

They do look perfect. I love the flavor of molasses and spices. Last year I over iced all my cookies, This year Im going for the less is more thing. That way the flavor of the cookie shines through.

Anonymous said...

If these beauties aren't perfect then I don't know what is. I like basic down to Earth cookies, too, and this recipe slipped by me while I was choosing. Most likely Gourmet's photos aren't as lovely as yours. And yes, I've been eating cookies for breakfast, too. And lunch. *sigh*

Andrea said...

I love the sugar sparkling on them. And your line: "A don't-judge-a-granny-by-her-gray-hair* cookie." Priceless. :-)

Kiran said...

I just came across your 12 days to cookies yesterday and really like the concept. I love ginger cookies and will have to try this recipe once I get some molasses, or can I substitute with anything else ?

Keep up the good work :)

Sandy Smith said...

~Thanks Kiran! The molasses in these cookies serves as a flavoring agent, so to replicated these exactly, you'd probably want to use it. However, if you want to experiment a bit, you could replace the molasses with dark corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey. The flavor would change, naturally, but the texture should hold up just fine. Alternatively, you could substitute 3 tablespoons of brown sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water for the molasses. (Closer in flavor.)

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