Day 6: Ginger, the first one

When I first started thinking about the cookies I wanted to bake during the course of these twelve days, I was a little worried that I would not be able to come up with 12. I know once the husband starts reading this, he is going to start laughing and not stop. My tendency is to begin with, “Oh, I’ll just make our favorites and that’s it. We don’t really need that many cookies.” Then, I start looking around and going through my cookbooks and reading blog posts, and before I know it, I want to make way more than just the few I began with. It’s a sickness, I know.

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But friends, there are just so many interesting recipes to try out there. Every year, we seem to find a new favorite which we would not have found if it weren’t for my craziness. Plus, every situation demands different cookie needs. Take the ginger cookie, for an example. There isn’t one cookie that will fit the needs of every situation. A thin, crispy, buttery one will not make good houses, nor would a soft, spicy, cakey one. And just what is a ginger cookie, anyway? Lots of recipes call for ginger but some may have a whopping amount and some have just a little. And does it have to have molasses to qualify as a gingerbread cookie? See what I mean? I started off thinking I would just make one type of ginger cookie this year and before I know it, I have to make at least two, if not three. Sigh. There’s nothing to do but to just give in to the madness and just go with the flow.

Here’s what happens when you just decide to go with the flow and start making all the cookie dough one wants to make.

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You’ll be hearing about most of these in due course, but today, I’m just going to talk about a thin, tiny ginger cookie that I just have to make every year. In fact, I cannot imagine a Christmas without this cookie (warning, this statement might be heard again before this series is through).

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It is super thin, crispy, buttery, and packs a big ginger punch, especially when you hit a little chunk of crystallized ginger. With the sprinkling of sugar, it is also sparkly and festive looking. They are little enough that eating them feels like eating potato chips; you can’t just have one, a dozen is more like it.

The dough is really soft and difficult to roll.

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But, with the help of parchment paper

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and a ruler, it is easy to get a nice, uniform log.

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Once it is in a log, put it in a paper towel tube that has been cut open lengthwise to help keep the log’s curvy shape.

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When you slice it, use a thin, sharp knife and roll the log a little with each slice to keep it from flattening on one side.

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If you get bits that come off, just press them back together. You won’t even notice them after they are baked.

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This recipe seems like it makes a lot, but when a serving is a dozen cookies, it’s not as many as you would initially think.

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Here’s my cute helper. He’s also quite the cookie monster, but I think secretly he keeps hoping I will bake more pies. Me, I get a little grumpy if I go too long without a piece of cake. What would you choose? Cake, cookie, or pie?

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Ginger Cookies
Makes about 8-10 dozen small cookies.

1 1/4 cups pecans, toasted in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and chopped coarsely
14 Tbs. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 Tbs. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger

In a bowl, using an electric mixer preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the 1 1/4 cups sugar until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then add the molasses and beat to combine.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt and white pepper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well mixed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the crystallized ginger and nuts until evenly distributed.

Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Form each portion into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days.

Preheat an oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut each log into slices 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

Bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack and sprinkle with sugar. Let cool.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).

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Posted on December 11, 2013, in Baking, Holiday, Recipe and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. It’s so fun to hear what you think of as the “classic, can’t do without” holiday cookie! They really sound delectable…

    I really do not like to discriminate between desserts, but I guess that if I had to choose just one type that I would also gravitate toward cakes. Nothing beats a good homemade cake in my opinion…

    Maybe you can highlight cake recipes sometime in the new year!

  2. My mother in law will love these! They look nice and ginger-y! As for my dessert picks, that is hard… between cakes and pies, I choose pie, hands down. But since you threw cookies into the mix, it gets more complicated. I definitely start obsessing about cookies if we go for too long without any in my house!

  3. Look wonderful! Just need to get some parchment paper.

  4. Thanks for the great pictures of how you get such pretty, uniform cookies. I never would have thought to use a paper towel tube. These cookies look delicious and you have quite the handsome helper!

    As far as my dessert preferences go, I think I would have to pick cake. Rich, moist, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Yum!

  5. Cake, cake, cake. Love pie, too, but I can never forget how much work it is for only 6 or 8 servings.

    And I’ve never met a ginger cookie I didn’t like.

  6. Goodness, yet another great looking cookie! I do love cookies, but a good fruit pie/cobbler is right up there!

  7. Definitely pie…that’s what I always asked for instead of birthday cake…my mother’s apple or lemon meringue or if the pecans had arrived from my Mississippi grandmother in time, well there’s nothing like a good pecan pie.

    But we always had Christmas cookies, including those buttery German cookies that get pushed through a gun almost like frosting…yumm!

  8. Cake wins for me, white cake with chocolate frosting.

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