Happy Christmas Eve! In the spirit of Christmas, I'm sharing my "secret" ginger cookie recipe. It plays a big part in the holiday season, as I like to give them away, bring them to holiday parties, and even use them to make pie crusts for sweet potato pie.
When I was a kid, I loved gingerbread from Colonial Williamsburg. The gingerbread was the size of a large biscuit (the Southern kind, not a British biscuit which is really a cookie), and dense. Denser than pound cake, and dry, like it had so much flour packed into it. Wanting to replicate those cookies, I tried a couple of recipes, and ended up with a molasses-based ginger cookie instead. Folks seemed to think it was better than the real thing. I made them all the time as gifts, as a church fundraiser, and just for the fun of it.
Fast forward ten years, and I started hankering for a gluten-free version. Just for the heck of it, I figured, I'd come up with my own. Well. Mike liked them so much he insisted that I make them as wedding favors. Let's just say, this recipe has been tested out the wazoo. And there weren't any left over from the wedding.
So, this recipe will just be our little secret, okay? Don't be daunted by the number of ingredients - it's really pretty simple. I promise.
You start with some melted butter. Normally this would freak me out, but it's okay, because it makes the whole thing easier to stir, and we're going to chill the dough anyways.
To the butter, we'll add some sugar and brown sugar.
Then add molasses by weight so you don't have to get frustrated when it doesn't all come out of the measuring cup, and an egg and some vanilla, and stir it all together.
In a separate bowl, weigh out the flour, measure out the spices, and then whisk them all together.
Mix about a third of the flour mixture into the liquids by hand with a wooden spoon (this is the part where we're glad we melted the butter). Lather, rinse, repeat, until you've used up all the flour.
It'll look something like this. Maybe a little darker or lighter, depending on the kind of molasses you use.
Now the hard part. Refrigerate the dough overnight. Not an hour. Not two hours. Overnight.
Once that dough is nice and cold, roll it into one-inch balls.
Roll each ball in some sugar. Keep 'em cold until they're ready to go in the oven. I often put them on a plate and stick them in the fridge until it's time to put them in the oven.
Place about two inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and bake at 325 degrees for 11 minutes. Yep, 11 minutes. Not 10. Not 12. Eleven is the magic number for these cookies. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
Now you have some delicious, chewy molasses ginger cookies. If you prefer ginger snaps, you can put them back on a cookie sheet (they don't need to be spaced out, just a single layer is fine), turn off the heat, and let them harden overnight.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
- 3.2 ounces each teff flour, millet flour, and sorghum flour
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husks
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 scant teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/3 cup molasses (3.5 ounces, if measuring by weight)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium sized bowl, weigh out the flours, then whisk with the baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
In another medium or large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar. Add in the molasses, egg, and vanilla, stirring until well combined.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in a third of the flour mixture until well combined. Repeat, using about a third of the flour mixture at a time. When all the flour has been incorporated, cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Keep the dough cold until the cookies are ready to go into the oven.
Place each ball about 2 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 11 minutes.
Allow the cookies to cool about five minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
If you want ginger snaps instead of chewy cookies, bake all the cookie dough first. Then, arrange the cookies in a single layer (they don't have to have any space between them) on several baking sheets, then return to the oven. Turn off the heat immediately, and leave them to cool and harden several hours or overnight. Ginger snaps like this make an excellent sweet pie crust.