I don't do a lot of baking. Occasionally, I'll bake a treat for a friend's birthday or other special event, but I don't bake just for the heck of it. It's not that I can't do it or that I don't like it. I just find it hard to fit that kind of food into my diet and still maintain my weight. I don't have the best self control when it comes to having sweets around, so I usually just don't keep cookies or cake or anything in the house if I can help it. I'm not the type to make a batch of cookies last all week. One day, maybe two, and they're gone. I would bring the rest of the batch in to work, but it seems like everyone is watching what they eat these days, so I try to keep that to a minimum.
However, I always make an exception for the holidays. I try not to go crazy, but I give in and make a few different kinds of cookies or sweets. It's fun, it's satisfying when the end result is successful, and it makes you feel good when people ooh and aah over what you've made for them. :-)
I had a lot of molasses in the pantry (from the Thanksgiving dessert) so I decided I was going to make some kind of gingerbread cookie. I finally settled on Martha Stewart's Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies. Incidentally, it's the cookie that is pictured on the cover of her cookie cookbook. Let me warn you: these cookies are dangerous! They are hands down one of the best cookies I've had in a long time. I had a hard time restraining myself when I packaged up most of the first batch to ship away to my relatives. They are bursting with all the classic flavors of a gingerbread cookie, due to a combination of fresh ginger, ground ginger, and molasses. They have a delightfully chewy texture that is interspersed with bits of semi-sweet chocolate chunks. I can't really say enough good things about these cookies. I will be making another batch later this week to share with our families when we visit for Christmas!
|Note the ooey-gooey chocolate :-)|
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies
makes 2 dozen
Notes: Another reason I love this recipe is because you can make them over the course of two days. Make the dough one day, refrigerate, and roll and bake the cookies the next day. You can just chill the dough for two hours, but at that point, my evening would be about over anyway. So if you work all day and cook in the evening hours like me, baking the cookies the next day is the way to go.
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
7 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. If you're planning on baking the cookies the next day, you can skip this step for now.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and fresh ginger together for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture has lightened. Add the brown sugar, mix until combined, then add the molasses, mix until combined.
In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water. (I boiled the minimum amount of water in our electric tea kettle, about 2 cups, then carefully measured the correct amount into the bowl. Make a cup of tea with the extra water, if you want). Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Beat in the baking soda mixture, then the other half of the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chunks, and turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Pat out the dough into a square or rectangle-like shape, about 1-inch thick; seal with wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours, or overnight. Martha did not suggest making the dough into a square or a rectangle, but I found it helpful the next day when it came time to roll the dough into balls. If the dough is in a square or rectangle, you can use a pizza cutter to make a grid of 24 squares, making sure you make the full 2 dozen cookies.
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment if you haven't already.
Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place two inches apart on baking sheets. Do not compromise on the two inches, these cookies spread out as they bake, just suck it up and do several batches if you have small baking sheets like me. Chill on the baking sheets for 20 minutes. For my second batch, I rolled all the balls at once and placed them on a large platter, put that in the fridge, then removed the balls as needed when it was time to fill a sheet to bake, since I had to do a few batches. That seemed to work fine, just be sure to let your baking sheets cool between batches.
After chilling, rolls the balls in granulated sugar. Be generous here, even though it looks like a lot of sugar. The cookies will spread out as they bake, so the sugar will not look as concentrated over the surface of the cookie once they are done.
Martha says to bake the cookies until the surfaces just begin to crack, about 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. For my first batch, I took them out right when she said, when they were just beginning to crack, but I thought they were too soft and underdone, though definitely not inedible. For my second batch, I let them bake until the surfaces had formed good sized cracks, still about 12 minutes or so, and they were perfect. It could be a difference in oven temperature, or some other factor, I don't know.
Cookies are best the day they are made, but you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. I highly doubt they will be around that long though.