I’m only tempted by one type of packaged cookie: Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps. As far as store-bought cookies go, they’re surprisingly straightforward, with no extra preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients. But what tingles my tastebuds are the three layers of ginger: ground, fresh and crystallized.
With a tasty cookie and easy-to-replicate ingredient list, I embarked on one of my favorite kitchen projects: discovering how to make from scratch something I enjoy eating. The result was similar, if not better, triple ginger cookies. They feature a cracked and sugar-dusted surface, resembling that of Snickerdoodles. They’re dotted with specks of crystallized ginger, which I recommend chopping by hand so that there’s less tendency to clump. I use a ginger grater to break down the tough fibers of fresh gingerroot, but a microplane or fine zester will work instead.
By keeping the dough balls small, cooking them until just barely firm and cooling them completely, you’ll get a bit of snap from each cookie. I prefer some give in my ginger cookies; for more snap, try replacing some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat.
This ginger cookie recipe also freezes well. I find it easiest to chill the dough just enough that I can roll it into balls and then freeze them on a tray before popping them into a zip-close bag. When a cookie craving hits, I roll the frozen balls in sugar and baked them as usual, perhaps for a couple of extra minutes.
Makes about 60 cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, molasses and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper; stir this into the molasses mixture until just combined. Stir the fresh and crystalized ginger into the dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into a small bowl. Shape a generous tablespoon of chilled dough into a ball, roll it in the sugar and place it on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls, spacing them about 2 inches apart, until the sheet is full.
Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned yet still soft. Immediately remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Scrape any crumbs from the cookie sheet, and roll and bake the remaining dough. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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