You can always tell when a recipe has been loved and tested many times. Little notes are written in the margins, sometimes with different handwriting. The evidence from years of baking is clear on the page of this cookie recipe. Splotches of spices and butter linger from past years, a testament to its positive reviews!
This is one of my favorite recipes to make around the holidays. In our family, Christmas means it’s time for ginger cookies and cucidati (Sicilian fig cookies). I must say that these ginger cookies are a spice-lovers heaven! I know many people who do not love that popular blend of pumpkin spices– allspice, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. If this sounds like you, then you may want to tone down the spice levels in these cookies a bit.
However, for anyone who loves that familiar fall flavor, this is it in cookie form! These are a bit like ginger snaps, but much richer in flavor and not quite so tough to eat. They are very soft cookies that are chewy and tangy from the crystalized ginger. They are different than anything you’ve ever had. So- put away your Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, and get out that baking pan, it’s time to make some cookies!
Ginger Spice Cookies
makes about 30 cookies!
2 cups AP flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
several gratings fresh nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon crystalized ginger
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup dark molasses
turbinado sugar (for rolling the dough)
Combine the flour, ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl and whisk together. I usually like to buy cinnamon sticks for this and grate them on a manual grater for that strong cinnamon flavor. However, this is not really an easy task, and a spice grinder can be used just as easily, or even pre-ground cinnamon. The cookies will be delicious either way! After these dry ingredients are mixed together. Chop the crystalized ginger finely and add it into the dry mixture, stirring thoroughly.
Next, in a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, shortening, and butter. I do not have any type of electric mixer so I always melt ingredients like shortening or butter before adding them into a batter. However, if you have a beater of any kind, use it here with the shortening and butter at room temperature! You’ll want to beat the mixture until it becomes thick and fluffy. If you’re like me, without those lovely kitchen tools, you can just melt the butter and shortening and whisk everything for about 10 minutes. Your mixture will not be “fluffy” per se, but it will still make great cookies. You just need it to be thick and shiny.
Add the egg and molasses to the wet ingredients and continue beating until they are thoroughly mixed.
At this point, the batter will look thick and very dark in color. This is good! You can use a lighter molasses to get that more traditional ginger snap coloring, but I personally love the dark molasses because of the rich flavor it brings to the cookies and the incredibly scrumptious texture it gives them!
Now, slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the molasses mixture. It will not be easy to mix. This is a fairly thick dough, and I try to spend some time on it with a rubber spatula trying to get the flour completely integrated with the wet ingredients.
At this point you need to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour or up to a day.
When you are ready to bake your cookies, prepare two baking sheets by wrapping them in parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the turbinado sugar out onto a plate and roll the dough into small balls (taking about a tablespoon of dough per ball). Coat each ball generously in the sugar and arrange them on the baking sheet an inch or two apart.
Bake them for about 12 minutes, or until they are fragrant and soft- but crackled a bit on the top and edges!
Like I said, this recipe makes a ton of cookies, but I promise you will have no trouble getting rid of them!