It's time to start thinking about your Christmas Cookies! Me? I just love them. Over the years, I've done various things for Christmas, but I always return to the cookie. They are so much fun.
However, they can be so much work. I did a lot of recipe testing and selecting this year...not to mention a few total screw ups...more on that later.
For those of you that think Christmas cookies are out of your area of expertise, they aren't. Most of the recipes I am going to share with you this year can be made ahead and frozen, then thawed and baked. I love those. Some will require some times, and others can require some decorating, if you wish. If you don't - slice roll in sugar and bake, then frost...they are just as tasty.
Now let's get to the first cookie recipe. I made this recipe after watching it on Barefoot Contessa. It's a great recipe. I did adjust the spices a bit, since I am continuing my love of ginger. I think that if you are going to call it the Ultimate Ginger cookie, it better taste more like ginger than cinnamon!
I first made this for Christmas last year. It was a big hit. My nephew, Ryan, astonished me by telling me this was his favorite cookie. I thought for sure it would be one of the chocolate ones.
I love these. They are moist, and chewy, and are very gingery. When I made some of these this year, I was worried, since I overcooked a sheet of them. Hey, it happens. I didn't sweat it, they were still good, just a little crunchy. Don't worry if you do, they were chewy the next day.
Don't be intimidated by the amount of ginger and/or candied ginger in this recipe. It just enhances the overall experience. These are great with a nice cup of hot tea, or dipped in some left over cream cheese frosting. For the holidays, I rolled them in red sugar to add a festive touch. They taste the same, regardless of the color of sugar, and I love them!
A word of caution, though. Don't try to get cute and put very finely chopped ginger in the sugar you use to roll the cookies in. It will burn...and that tastes pretty nasty.
They can be frozen before baking, either shaped on balls, or in one big lump. Thaw in the refrigerator, and bake as normal.
Now for a tip. I'm sure all of you may know this already, but if you are measuring sticky ingredients, such as molasses, honey, or corn syrup (or even peanut butter), they come out of the measuring cup easier if you measure oil first. If the recipe doesn't call for any oil, you can lightly spray the inside of the measuring cup for the same effect.
"Ultimate" Ginger Cookies
Adapted from: Ina Garten
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 c. unsulfered molasses
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/4 cup chopped candied and/or crystalized ginger, finely chopped
Sugar for rolling the cookies in
Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or a silicone mat.
In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, molasses, and oil for about 5 minutes, until a lighter color. Add egg and mix until well incorporated. Add cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and mix. Mix in flour until well incorporated. Stir in the chopped ginger.
Measure out cookies in 2 teaspoon sizes. Roll into a ball, then roll each of the balls in granulated sugar. When you place them on the cookie sheet, flatten slightly. Bake for 13 minutes, and remove from oven. Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
Store in an air tight container when cooled.