Friday, February 01, 2013

Simple and Delicious Family Cooking: Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies


They really do turn out that perfectly round by themselves. Amazing, right? 
Also, please ignore the soft-focus photography. Gah! I need a real camera.

Yesterday was a truly frigid January day--the kind of day that forces you to drive your children to the bus stop half a block away because the windchills are too dangerous to walk and wait for the bus in. By afternoon, when I'd finished my (indoor!) run and all my boring chores, the wind was still howling outside and I could feel the chill just walking past the windows. It seemed like the perfect time to heat up the kitchen and fill the house with the warm scent of homemade molasses cookies.

At Christmastime, my friend Trisha (who is a mama of two now, but who I USED TO BABYSIT WHEN SHE WAS JUST A WEE THING OH DEAR LORD I AM OLD) gave me her addictive and delicious gingersnap recipe. At least, she told me they were addictive and delicious, and of course I believed her. But I didn't have time to make them then, because I was drowning in gingerbread men at the time. So I made them yesterday. And they are divine. I thought I'd share the recipe here, because a friend requested in on Facebook and Trisha so kindly told me I could post it.

A few important notes: the recipe below is the full recipe, but I halved it when I made them. As you can see, it's a big recipe. I think my half recipe made about 3 dozen cookies? It's hard to remember since most of them have already been eaten by hungry kiddos after school or given away to friends. You may wish to make the whole thing, if only because you may find yourself sneaking tastes of the dough and using up half the recipe that way. Ha.

Second: I don't know how you feel about shortening. I don't generally use it. But you may want to set aside any biases you have against it, and make this cookie anyway. Or, experiment with butter? I don't know. I used the recipe as-is. I did, however, increase the salt to the equivalent of 1-1/2 tsp. for the full recipe. I like a VERY SLIGHTLY salty-sweet cookie. Trust me and try it. Oh, and I didn't bother to mix wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, nor did I sift. Probably the cookies would have been even better had I sifted. You decide for yourself.

Third: UNDERBAKE. Or, rather, follow the directions and start with the lower time. THE COOKIES WILL LOOK UNDERDONE in your oven at 8 minutes. Ignore this, and take them out anyway. You may need to let them sit on the pan for a minute so you can remove them without having them fall apart. But they set quickly and determinedly, and if you wait until they appear done on the baking sheet, they will turn out hard and crispy, not soft and chewy. Still delicious, but a different thing entirely.

Lastly, wrap and store them well. Use Saran wrap and a good Tupperware or similar. You might want to wrap them up while they are still slightly warm. This will also enhance the soft-and-chewy factor.

Trisha's Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies
makes about 6 dozen (?)

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
8 T. molasses
2 T. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (see my note above)
4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add molasses and mix well. In a separate bowl (see my note above), sift all dry ingredients and then add them to the wet mixture and mix well.

Pour some white sugar on a plate. Roll a level T. of cookie dough into a ball, then roll it in the sugar to coat completely. Place on baking sheet WITHOUT flattening. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake about 8-9 minutes (maybe even less, if your oven runs hot like mine does!), or until cookies have flattened, have pretty cracks, and STILL LOOK SOFT AND UNDERDONE. Carefully remove to a rack to cool; cookies will be very delicate when hot but will set as they cool.

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