Ultimate Ginger Cookies

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Eating these cookies is like being wrapped in a big fleece blanket in front of a crackling fire. They will make you yearn for hot spiced cider, pumpkin pie, and cooler days watching the leaves change colors. I am a fall girl. I love the crisp air, jeans and hoodies, football Sundays, and the smell of hearty dishes like stew and chili simmering on the stove. One bite of these cookies and I could feel myself smack dab in the middle of October, ready to usher in the holidays with all of the warmth and spice that the season brings.

When I asked everyone what their favorite cookie is while holding a giveaway, Sherri of Eat.Make.Live. said her favorite are these Ultimate Ginger Cookies by Ina Garten. After compiling a round up of the top 10 favorite cookies and seeing that ginger cookies made the cut, I knew immediately that this recipe would be the one I’d use. Ina Garten never disappoints; she is one of the few Food Network hosts that I know will always deliver fool-proof recipes.

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These cookies are incredibly easy to make and went from separate ingredients to in the oven in less than 30 minutes. I am going to once again get on my soapbox about the benefits of using a kitchen scale. Even though I used mine to measure most of the ingredients in these cookies, the real bonus came when it was time to shape and bake them. Ina’s instructions are a little vague – “using two spoons or a small ice cream scoop” – well, how big is that? A tablespoon? A ¼ cup? I wasn’t sure, but what WAS a certain was the yield – this recipe makes 16 cookies, so says Ina. So I simply weighed all of the dough on my kitchen scale (in grams, which is more accurate than ounces), divided by 16, and then portioned out each cookie to that amount. Not only is it easier than trying to gauge scoops, but it also guarantees uniform-size cookies which will bake more evenly and make a beautiful presentation. (And in case you’re wondering, the sizing ended up being around 2 heaping tablespoons worth of dough for each cookie.)

As you might expect from a cookie that is comprised primarily of dark brown sugar and molasses, these have a chewy interior, with a nice crackly-crisp exterior as a result of pressing the cookies into granulated sugar before baking. I was wondering what effect that would have on the cookies, and it added the perfect contrasting flavor. The sugar provided just the right amount of balance to the spices in the cookie and the bite from the crystallized ginger such that the flavors didn’t overpower but rather all melded together in an incredibly perfect, warm blend. Speaking of crystallized ginger – if your local grocery doesn’t carry it you can purchase it at Williams Sonoma (where I bought mine) or order it from Penzeys or King Arthur Flour.

What is your favorite recipe for the crisp autumn months? Share a link if you have one!

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The rest of the Top 10 Cookies:
Better-than-Brownies Chocolate Cookies
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Snickerdoodles
No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies
Almond Macarons filled with Nutella
Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Yield: Makes 16 cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 13 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
1¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

4. Scoop the dough with two spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1¾-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the baking sheets.

5. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

(From Ina Garten, online and in Barefoot Contessa at Home)