As a little girl, one of my favorite things about the holidays was making gingerbread houses with my mother. My mom's gingerbread was thick and spicy, and I couldn't wait to build my house just so I could tear it apart and eat it.
These cookies were born out of those memories. Instead of the rigid cookies that edible-house building requires, these cookies are soft and chewy. They're also heavy on the spices, with lots of rich molases, cinnamon, and - of course - GINGER! I think they're perfect for the winter, and go great with a nice mug of spiked apple cider.
Step 1: Step 1: Get Ready
First, Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Then, gather your ingredients:
* 3 cups flour (I prefer unbleached, "all-purpouse" flour for this recipe.)
* 4 teaspoons ground ginger
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup margarine
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon apple cider (OR orange juice)
* 3/4 cup molasses (Use the full flavor, or even the "Robust" - if you can handle it!)
* small pile (a few tablespoons) white sugar in a shallow dish
Step 2: Step 2: Prepare Your Dry Ingredients
Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. (If you don't have a fancy flour sifter - feel free to use a fine mesh strainer!) Stir with a fork to combine well.
Step 3: Step 3: Prepare Your Wet Ingredients
Using an electric mixer, beat the margarine, butter, brown sugar, and white sugar on high until light and fluffy. Next, beat in the egg, apple cider (or OJ), and molasses. Beat everything by hand or with the mixer until it's smooth and mixed well.
Step 4: Step 4: Mix the Dough
Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and finally, blend everything fully. The dough will be very sticky!
At this point, If you have time, I'd highly recommend covering the bowl and sticking it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will make the dough firmer and much easier to handle.
If you don't have time, you could use two spoons to make dough balls - I usually end up abandoning this process and just diving right in with my (well-washed) hands!
Step 5: Step 5: Prepare to Bake
Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and plop the dough balls 2 inches apart onto your cookie sheet.
Next, wet the flat bottom of a glass, and dip the bottom into the dish with extra sugar.
Use this sugar-coated surface to flatten the cookies to about 1/2 inch thick. (Don't skip this step - the cookies won't flatten on their own!)
Step 6: Step 6: Bake, and Enjoy!
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies are done when the middle of the cookie is no longer shiny and wet-looking, the cookie center resists your fingerprint, and when your whole kitchen smells like warm, spicy goodness. (Depending on your oven, you may have to bake a little longer.)
Let the cookies cool for a few minutes and then transfer them off of the cookie tray onto another surface to cool. (Don't overlap the cookies as they cool - they will stick together!) Once cool, you can store the cookies in an airtight container with a piece of parchment in between - that is, IF you have any left over!
Step 7: Step 7: BONUS ROUND
If you want a REAL treat, and you have some ice cream in your freezer, make ice cream sandwiches! I made mine with some home-made Cinnamon Ice Cream, and it was a real winner!
Simply let the ice cream soften a little bit, then slather a few spoonfuls on a cookie.
Place a similarly-sized cookie on top, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Smush a little bit to distribute the ice cream fully and freeze for a few hours. It's the perfect winter treat to enjoy next to the fireplace!