Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Are you ready for Thanksgiving yet? What are you bringing? Are you hosting? 

I'm not going to be able to celebrate with family this year - I've jumped right from one service industry to another. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this, but it's still a little bit of a downer.  

Around this time of year there are more occasions for get togethers - not just the holidays but the weekends in between. I like to be able to contribute something, to have a housewarming gift of sorts. Cookies are great for that because they aren't as intimidating as something bigger like a pie. Now, if you're coming to my place that would be the perfect housewarming treat, but it can get a little messy and you're showing off a little more. Look what I brought! A pie! What, you don't have ice cream to match with this? See, that's not polite when you're visiting someone else. Cookies creep right in, no accessories needed, and everyone can have one without blowing their diet. Even better, you can have a monster baking session, freeze the dough and only bake what you need when you need it.

That's my preamble to The Best Cookies This Holiday Season. Okay, I have one other recipe that I was supposed to post last year but didn't. Stuff got busy. So, this recipe and the other one are the only ones I'm bringing to holiday celebrations. And maybe some of these. Or these. I see a pattern: if its spicy, chocolate and dramatic, I'm bringing it. 

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies 
adapted (doubled-it's silly to do all the work and not have tons of these-and added the candied ginger, because I can never get enough) from Martha Stewart, discovered by my dear friend Alice who fed me these last year and I've been thinking about them ever since. 

14 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate (don't use chips, they won't melt the right way. I know, chopping chocolate is the worst, but it's so worth it)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (this was about 3 inches of fresh ginger)
1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar for a little gorgeous exterior.
4 ounces candied ginger chopped into ¼ inch pieces (optional)


Do these the night before, or else you’re going to be making these cookies all day long (anyway, I usually measure the dry ingredients the night before. It makes it go faster the next day when I’m really getting impatient for cookies)

1. Chop all the chocolate into ¼ inch pieces. Chop the candied ginger. Set aside.

2. Measure out and combine the flour, spices, and cocoa.

Next day:
1. Put the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement.

2. Grate the ginger into the butter and mix at medium speed until it’s white and fluffy looking. Add the brown sugar, beat till combined. Add the molasses and beat until combined.

3. In a small bowl, add 3 teaspoons boiling water to the baking soda. Mix till combined.

4. Beat half of the flour mixture into the sugar-butter-deliciousness. Add the baking soda, mix to combine. Add the rest of the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in (or mix on low) the chocolate and candied ginger.
5. Divide the dough in half, turning out onto a big piece of plastic wrap-each half should get its own plastic wrap. Smoosh the dough until it’s about 1” thick, then refrigerate about 2 hours. I know,waiting is the worst. 

6. Divide the dough somehow into equal portions. Initially I used a cookie baller thing. Not a good idea. Try this technique:
You can use a ruler if you’re picky (I am). Roll each 1-1 ½ inch cube in between your hands to make a ball. Roll in the sugar to coat.

7. To bake them all now (or at least a few so you know how awesome these are): preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookies about 2” apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just cracked on the top. They’ll firm up after they’ve cooled. Don’t overbake them or they’ll be crunchy not chewy.

8. If you’re going to freeze these individually: line a baking sheet with parchment paper, putting the sugar coated dough just enough apart to not stick. Flash freeze and then put in a baggie. They’ll need to cook a little longer when you’re ready for them, but this way they’re always fresh.

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