Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookies

I love the flavors of gingerbread, but too often, gingerbread turns out dry. Store bought gingerbread in particular suffers from this affliction. Cookies that should be warm and rich with spice have the flavor and consistency of chalk. I felt like I could do better.

This is a heavily doctored recipe based on one from a Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie magazine that my in-laws gave me a few years ago. Martha seems to prefer her cookies more chewy than cakey. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was kind of hoping for the best of both worlds, and this isn’t it. I can’t say I wasn’t warned; the original instructions say “bake until flat,” and flat cookies are rarely pillowy of texture.

This is not to say that these cookies are a failure. They are flavorful and moist and have a delightfully appealing sugar crust. Instead of plain sugar, I rolled them in turbinado sugar, and the crunchiness that this added contrasts beautifully with the chewiness of the cookies. Most importantly, this cookie is full of the ginger molasses flavors that are redolent of Christmas.
Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
4 eggs (I will try this with only 3 next time)
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one orange (optional)

5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Sugar to roll the cookies in, preferably large-grained turbinado sugar (about a cup)

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, stirring until blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and orange zest.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add to wet ingredients.

Chill dough for at least an hour or overnight.

Form dough into 1 ½” balls with your hands (or, you know, a melon scooper or something if you’re fussy). Roll the balls of dough in sugar – preferably coarse-grained sugar such as turbinado.

Bake in an oven preheated to 325 on parchment paper or silpat-lined cookie sheets for 14-18 minutes or until just barely set in middle and faintly brown at the edge.

Makes 3-4 dozen.

I made quite a few modifications to this recipe. I added the zest of one orange and some cloves, because both are so nice, and I added a bit more flour than the original included. I reduced, slightly, the amounts of cinnamon and allspice and cut the amount of white sugar by a smidge because I don’t like cloyingly sweet baked goods. If I ever make these again, I think I’m going to go down to 3 eggs; I’m not sure that 4th egg is adding anything.

This is not to suggest that there’s anything to complain about. These cookies are excellent. My husband proclaimed them the first gingerbread cookies he’s ever tasted and liked, and if that’s not victory, I don’t know what is.

Printable recipe here.

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