The cold, dreary weather here in Portland brings me back to my childhood days in Connecticut late autumn.
Walking home from elementary school with my sister, we felt leaves crackling underfoot and spied the occasional leaf mountain for an impromptu jump. At this time of the year, there was always the smell of wood fires throughout the neighborhood and the telltale poofs of smoke coming from chimneys. The sun would make only occasional and furtive appearances, leaving the sky a study in mostly grays — dove, gunmetal, steel.
It was too early for mittens but a warm sweater coat and an umbrella would do — and my sister and I spent those last minutes of the walk wondering if Mom had some special treat for us at home.
On the worst of days, it’d be hot buttered popcorn and perhaps a little sliced cheddar. Or Ritz Crackers, celery, raisins and peanut butter (Ants on a Log was a big thing back then.)
But on the best of days, the telltale aromas of my mama’s specialty would waft under our big Cardinal Red door and greeted us as we dropped our knapsacks and raced into the kitchen.
Chewy Ginger Cookies.
They were always so good– redolent with cinnamon, ginger and lots of molasses (which gave the cookie a wonderfully chewy, gooey texture).
Ever since, I’ve had a weakness for a great, chewy ginger cookie.
Sometimes I like to bake them up thick and eat them with a green apple alongside — a killer combination.
This week I found the last of the homemade peach ice cream I made last summer, and my mind instantly went to ice cream sandwiches. I needed a delivery system for this ice cream — and the softer, the better.
Boom, these cookies came to mind.
I pulled out my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer and got to work.
I gathered all the dried ingredients and in doing so I realized I was a little shy on dried ginger, so I just grated some fresh ginger into the room temperature butter (and it worked out perfectly).
The batter is a cinch to make, and I had a dough ready in just a few minutes.
I chilled the batter for thirty minutes just to firm it up a little bit, and then got ready to roll the balls of dough in granulated sugar– a vital step.
I rolled the balls thoroughly in the sugar and set them on my Silpat.
Here’s what they looked like just before they went into the oven.
Be sure to give the cookie dough lots of room to spread out — you’d hate to have them all bleed into one another.
I was going for a big cookie, so six of these on a cookie sheet worked out perfectly.
I love how the batter cracks and creates these sugar-laced crevices.
The recipe comes from this book and it’s a winner.
(Yes, the book is really that smudged from many years of dirty hands).
Here’s what I love about this cookie; it has the same aromas of apple pie (the cinnamon and clove) but is infinitely more portable, and it has such a solid throwback/retro vibe to it.
When was the last time someone gave you a ginger cookie?
It’s been a while, no?
God helps those who help themselves.
Time to get crackin’, then.
Even with a rush to the store, you’re only about an hour away from chewy ginger cookie nirvana (and if you decide to use it as a base for your next ice cream sandwich cookie, prepare for legions of new fans).
- 2¼ C. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. ground clove
- ¾ C. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 C. packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ C. molasses
- about ¼ C. granulated sugar
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinammon, ginger and cloves into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light brown color, about 1 minute. ON low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.
- Spread the granulated sugar on a large piece of wax or parchment paper. Roll ¼ cup of dought between the palms of your hands into a 2 inch ball, roll the ball in the sugar, and place on one of he prepared bakings sheets. Continue making cookies, speaching them 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 14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the bakings sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
- The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container tat room temperature for up to 4 days.