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Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

About once or twice every holiday season, I find myself craving a good ginger cookie.  They taste like Fall, perfectly distilled into a little round treat.  The warm, earthy spices, the bits of heat from the ginger, along with the unique flavor from the molasses are magical.  And since I only eat ginger cookies once or twice a year, I want them to be fantastic– really something special.  This, friends, is that class of ginger cookie.

Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

A couple years ago, my friend made these cookies and they blew me away.  The little bits of candied ginger really stood out.  She pointed me to the recipe and I’ve been making them ever since– with my own tweaks, of course.   I actually thought about crafting my own recipe this year, but then realized that there was really not a point.  This is the ginger cookie that I want.  It’s perfectly crisp on the outside, wonderfully chewy on the inside.  It’s spice combination is perfect, and there is  just enough molasses to bring it all together without being overpowering.  I love this ginger cookie.  And it’s even better rolled in  demerara or turbinado  sugar.  The extra crunch from the large granules is key.  Also, try it with a light sprinkle of sea salt on the very top.  Amazing.  And there’s an added bonus– these keep a bit longer than an average cookie, so making them ahead for gift-giving or cookie exchanges is a great option.  I hope you enjoy these cookies this holiday season!

Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

The Recipe: Spiced Ginger Cookies

(makes about 30)

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped finely

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1 large egg (at room temperature)

1/4 cup mild-flavored molasses

Some sort of raw sugar for rolling, Turbinado or Demerara work well

Whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Next, sift them together.  This will get rid of any lumps that ground spices sometimes form.  Stir in the crystallized ginger.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter and brown sugar together for about 3 minutes on medium speed or until light and fluffy.  Next, add the egg and molasses to the mixture and continue to mix on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.  It is integral in any cookie recipe to cream the butter,sugar, and egg together long enough.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until just fully incorporated.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  When the dough is chilled, roll it out into balls  ( I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop) and roll them into the raw sugar.  Press down slightly ( but not too much) to flatten them a bit– or else they’ll end up being fairly puffy cookies.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes on the pan, then move to a cooling rack.  They keep  well for days in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great weekend.

Laurie

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My kids love to help me make holiday cookies.  We smear them with frosting (which must be tasted, over and over as we work), and decorate them with a hodgepodge of sprinkles.  And yes, the kids get to help with everything.  It’s worth it, even if the process takes a bit longer.  The kitchen counter ends up covered with frosting, and the floor is dusted with sprinkles that hide and reappear for days.

If you have children, you know how important it is to have a go-to sugar cookie recipe for the kids to cut out and decorate.  Heck, as far as I’m concerned, even if you don’t have kids you should have a great sugar cookie recipe.  I’ve tried so many different versions, and after years of testing have decided that this one is my favorite.  It’s quick, reliable, and most importantly it’s very, very good.

These sugar cookies are just what I like– crisp around the edges and soft in the middle.  They have a rich buttery flavor, and the frosting is soft and perfect.  Even better, these cookies are simple to make.  So there is no reason to settle for that pre-made cookie dough with the funky aftertaste from the supermarket.  Make these.  You’ll be happy you did.

The Recipe: Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

(Makes about 2 dozen cookies, though it depends on the size of your cookie cutter)

1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups (420 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Frosting

About 3 1/4 cups (1 pound/ 454 grams) confectioners’ sugar

About 3 tablespoons milk, more if necessary

4 ounces softened cream cheese

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, once again.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well mixed.  On low speed, slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture.  Mix until evenly incorporated.

Place the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disk shape, about 8-inches in diameter and 1-inch thick.  Wrap completely in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until it is firm enough to roll out.  Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in a freezer for up to 1 month.  If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Position rack in the center of an oven, and heat to 350°F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly flour a work surface, place the dough on the surface and lightly flour the dough, as well as the rolling pin. Roll out dough to be about 1/4-inch thick.  Make sure to keep the work surface well-floured to prevent sticking.  Use a cookie cutter and cut out as many cookies as possible.  Place them on the lined cookie sheet with a normal amount of space between them.  Gather scraps and reroll; continue until all of the dough is gone.

Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges and pale to light brown in the centers.  The baking time may be shorter or longer depending upon the size of your cookies.  Keep a watchful eye.  Let them cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for a couple of minutes until soft and smooth.  Add the confectioners sugar and milk.  Mix until well incorporated.  Add a bit more milk, if necessary.  You will want the frosting to be somewhat thick, or else it will slide off of the cookies.  Mistakes can easily corrected by adding more confectioners’ sugar or milk.  Frost the cookies and sprinkle with decorations.  Let set for a few minutes before serving.  The cookies keep well in an airtight container for about 4 days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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I intended to get this to-die-for cookie recipe to you earlier this week, but I’ve been (more than) a bit under the weather with a cold.  In any case, you still have a time to whip out a batch of these little treats.  Trust me here– they will not be passed over on the cookie platter.  The inspiration for these double-dark chocolate thumbprint cookies is chocolate mousse.  Is there anything better than chocolate mousse?  Anything?  I’ve tried to capture how light and airy they are in this picture of the batter.

The cookies crisp-up around the edges, yet stay soft and tender in the middle.  They’re almost like biting into a little pillow of chocolate.  And of course I’m a sucker for ganache, so these little gems are right in my wheel house.  My family and friends love these cookies, and I think you will too.

I’ll be on the road for the next few days, since we’re packing up the presents and the kids and traveling back to North Dakota to be with our families for the holidays.  I’m so excited!  Even the prospect of facing a nine-hour drive each way with a three and five-year-old can’t dampen my spirit– at least not yet.  The weather looks good, with no blizzards in the forecast.  Fingers crossed.   Happy holidays to all of you!

The Recipe:  Double-Dark Chocolate Thumbprints

(Yields about 2 1/2 dozen)

For the cookies:

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Sea salt, for sprinkling

For the chocolate filling:

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, (1/2 cup)

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until blended after each addition, about 30 seconds, add the vanilla along with the last egg.  Continue mixing on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute.  Add the cooled, melted chocolate and mix until just blended, about 30 seconds.  Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until well blended, about 1 minute.

Using a mini-scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Do not flatten.  Bake until the cookies are puffed and the tops are cracked and look dry, 10-11 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately make a small, deep well in the center of each of them using the end of a thick handled spoon or the back of a measuring spoon.  Sprinkle with sea salt while they are warm.  Let sit on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Meanwhile,  melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave.  Stir every 20 seconds until melted and smooth.  Let cool and thicken a bit.

When cookies are somewhat cool, fill them with the chocolate filling using a teaspoon.  If the filling becomes too thick, just microwave it for a few seconds longer.  The chocolate will completely set in the cookies within an hour.  They keep well in an airtight container for days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Dec/Jan 2011

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with much happiness.  See you next week.

Laurie

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