Make ginger cookies that are moist and tasty
Vail CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Gingersnaps are considered a form of punishment in my household. It’s not that we don’t like ginger; it’s the cookies themselves: too dry, too dull, tasting more like molasses than ginger … definitely uninspired. I never thought I’d make one.
This recipe, however, intrigued me ” a cookie made with crystallized ginger. If anything could make a ginger cookie moist and tasty, it would be soft, tender and strongly flavored crystallized ginger. I thought it was worth a try.
The results were impressive. The cookies are chewy, succulent and nicely flavored. We not only ate the whole batch, my husband asked for more. I have made them several times now and have a host of fans who sing their praises.
Several things are critical to their success: Be sure to use crystallized ginger that is soft and flexible. It supplies the cookie’s appealing texture and can’t do so if it has hardened. Even more important, these cookies lose their wonderful chewiness if they are overbaked. So bake them at the suggested low temperature, in the bottom third of the oven, and be sure to remove them from the oven when they are puffy and still soft all over, with no signs of browning. The first time you make them, you’ll probably think they aren’t done ” take them out of the oven anyway. They flatten a bit and harden up as they cool.
The cookies keep for as long as five days if wrapped airtight and stored at cool room temperature. They also freeze well.
Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet; you can successfully halve this recipe.
2 1⁄2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg at room temperature
1⁄4 cup of molasses
2⁄3 cup of crystallized ginger, chopped into quarter-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Reynold’s Release foil. Don’t use a greased cookie sheet; the grease will make the cookies spread.
Combine the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and whisk until well combined and aerated.
Combine the room-temperature butter, the cup of sugar, the room-temperature egg and the molasses and beat well with an electric mixer or by hand.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well at low-medium speed with an electric mixer or by hand. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger.
If the dough is too sticky to roll into balls, refrigerate it until it is firm enough to do so. Roll the dough into balls, 1 inch in diameter. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place them about two inches apart on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once filled, put the cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze until the balls are quite firm. (This will help prevent the cookies from spreading too much when they bake.)
Bake in the lower third of the oven, one cookie sheet at a time, just until the dough balls have spread into a round cookie, have puffed and are softly set. Don’t let any part of the cookies get hard while they are in the oven; they’ll harden up as they cool. This took about 16 minutes in my oven when the unbaked dough balls were frozen until quite firm and 13 minutes when the unbaked dough balls were chilled but were softer. Keep in mind, it’s better to under bake them than to overbake them!
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven to a cooling rack. Remove the cookies from the sheet as soon as they are firm enough to do so (about 3 to 5 minutes). Let them complete the cooling process and then store them airtight or freeze.
Makes about 45 cookies.
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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