Thursday, August 16, 2007
Ginger Cookie Sandwiches
I can’t believe that I haven’t written about ginger before. It is truly one of my favorite flavors. As a child I remember my mom buying great quantities of gnarled gingeroot, and making a jar of ginger paste to be generously doled into lentils and vegetable curries. From a young age I had a predilection for ginger snaps and ginger preserve (the British do this best), and regularly delight in ginger cookies and gingerbread, especially around Christmas.
Ginger is not actually a root but a rhizome, which is the subterranean stem of a plant. It originated in China and is now widely used in East Asia, South Asia, Middle East and the West. While the literature is inconclusive on its medical benefits, some studies have shown ginger to thin blood, lower cholesterol; it may also have sedative, analgesic and antibacterial properties. Check out the Wikipedia page for ginger, especially note the “References in popular culture” section which contains some very odd facts.
These cookies were inspired by 6-inch ginger cookie sandwiches which were famous at the Lazy Loaf and Kettle Café and Bakery that I frequented in Calgary. The café was a short drive from my first job, and once a week someone from the office would make a cookie run. Those sandwiches were certainly big enough to share… but I never did! My version is less cruel to the waistline.
Makes 30 sandwiches (60 cookies)
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, minced
1/2 cup granulated sugar (optional)
1 pound cream cheese (low fat is fine)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a medium size bowl combine flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In another large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add molasses and beat well.
3. Slowly beat in flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon mix in fresh and crystallized gingers.
4. The batter will be very soft, so cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
6. Roll batter into 3/4-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar (optional). Set 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown. Cool on a wire rack.
8. Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Add vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Place a generous teaspoon of icing on the bottom of a cookie and sandwich with another cookie. Squeeze slightly to adhere.
9. Store cookie sandwiches in the fridge and serve within 5 days. Leave some single cookies for a less indulgent snack.