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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sugar-crusted Ginger Cookies

These are originally called "chewies", but mine came out hard as rocks.  I won't blame the recipe for that entirely, but rather the size of my cookies.  (Consider the source.  The original version is huge; mine were probably half the size, but what I would consider "normal" cookie size.)  But the recipe still wasn't very good, for a number of reasons.  A big one was they didn't taste like ginger!  Perhaps my ginger isn't up to snuff (it was a new bag, but a different brand), but the dough tasted like cinnamon, not ginger, so I added a little more.  And then a little more.  And then a little more....  I'm really not sure how much I added in the end, and they still tasted a little bland.  (A single teaspoon in all that flour tells me it wasn't my ginger.)  Increasing the salt a bit helped.  But I have a better recipe for this type of cookie from Bon Appétit -- I should have used it.

I made half the recipe.  Did I not reduce the butter quantity?  Is that why I had so much trouble?  Seems to me that would have produced more disastrous results, or more delicious cookies.  I'll never know.

The half recipe yielded about 2½ dozen moderate-sized cookies.

Here's what I used:

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 2½ teaspoons (at least) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
about 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar and spices until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light color, about 1 minute.  On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.  Refrigerate the dough until firm, 1-2 hours.  Pour the turbinado sugar into a small bowl.  Roll 2 tablespoons (I used about 1+ tablespoon) of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, toss the ball in sugar to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue making cookies, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 12-14 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

This dough was extremely soft.  There was no way I could roll balls of it.  I had to refrigerate it and then work quickly, as it kept softening on me.  I've added direction to refrigerate the dough.

These spread a LOT.  The original cookie has some thickness to it.  Obviously the quantity of dough made the difference there, as well as in the final texture.  On giving these cookies the touch test, it was like touching air.  The only reason I knew I had even made contact was because I heard a noise, and there was a dent left behind.  So because the directions state they should "feel firm", I determined the cookies were not yet done and baked them another minute.  Realizing that was producing hard cookies, I baked the next batch for a minute or two less, but they were still hard.  I suppose I should have taken them out of the oven while they still seemed underbaked.  Or just made them the size called for.

In an attempt to give them a better texture, I stored them for a day with a couple slices of apple.  The result was they actually ended up tasting like apple!  But that doesn't say much for the strength of the ginger and molasses flavors.

Conclusion:  These were okay with my modifications, but why bother?  There are a lot of better ginger cookie recipes out there to use.  I do like the use of turbinado sugar rather then coarse sugar (which is what traditionally might have been used, until raw sugar became a household item).  It's much softer and doesn't give that hard crunch, which I never liked.

Recipe:  Sugar Crusted Ginger Chewies via Joy the Baker, originally from Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans

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