Friday, December 28, 2007

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

“An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread...”
William Shakespeare
Love’s Labours Lost (Act V, Scene 1)

These are the best holiday cookies I have ever eaten. I hate to admit it, but the recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. Once you taste these, you will understand why they are only the second adapted recipe I have featured on this site. The unbaked dough is divine, and can be eaten straight from the bowl or mixed with vanilla ice cream for a decadent dessert.

Gingerbread was first created in pre-Christian Europe to celebrate the Winter solstice. After the Crusades, Catholic monks began to bake gingerbread for special religious celebrations. In medieval times, gingerbread became associated with secular festivals, which came to be known as ‘gingerbread fairs’. Early bakers produced motifs inspired by daily life. In the seventeeth and eighteenth century, themes expanded to include nobility, floral and geometric designs.

In Medieval England the term gingerbread meant 'preserved ginger', and was adopted from the old French gingebras, which came from the Latin zingebar. Today gingerbread takes many variations – from crispy biscuit to dense cake. This chewy cookie falls somewhere between the two, with a healthy dose of chocolate.

Makes 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (not chopped)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
granulated sugar

1. In a medium bowl mix flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl beat butter and ginger. Add brown sugar and beat well; then add molasses and beat well.
3. In a cup dissolve baking soda in 2 teaspoons of boiling water.
4. Beat half of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the dissolved baking soda. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat well.
5. Fold chocolate chips or chunks into the dough.
6. Pat dough into a circle about 1 inch thick and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until the dough has hardened.
7. Roll into 1 inch balls and chill for a further 30 minutes (see photo above). Since the dough does not contain egg, these balls can be kept in the fridge for several days or frozen for later use.
8. Preheat the oven to 325F.
9. To bake cookies, roll balls in granulated sugar and place 1 inch apart on a Silpat-lined baking sheet (you can use parchment paper as well).
10. Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. If the cookie bottoms are burned and shiny, reduce the oven temperature to 300F and cook for 2 minutes longer. Gently transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.


KayKat said...

These sound delicious! I tried substituting the butter with a vegan margarine spread in a similar recipe and it showcased the ginger even more!

Are those the cookie balls before baking in the last picture? Love the perspective :)

Sorina said...

Absolutely beautiful! These look delectable and I want to try them all!

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Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that I just made your Chocolate Gingerbread cookie dough. I sent Uncle Mark out to buy the molasses.

Well......................I just placed the dough in the fridge and I had to write and tell you that I could not stop eating the batter. What a thrill..........not to have to worry about salmonella. I have not had that much fun licking the spoon in years! Even if the baked cookies don't come out good (as unlikely as that might be), the dough is a treat in itself!

I won't complete the preparation until tomorrow. Can't wait.

Auntie B!

PS I made a couple of changes. I omitted the nutmeg as I don't care for the flavor and instead of using fresh ginger along with the ground, I used 2 tablespoons of ground.

By the way, what is the reason for dissolving the baking soda? I have never done that before. Do you think it would make a difference if the baking soda was added to the other dry ingredients? Of course the 2 teaspoons of water adds a bit of liquid, but it is rather insignificant.

Anonymous said...

We needed a good eggless cookie recipe, so we tried this one out. I didn't have fresh ginger on hand so used 2 tbsp. ground like the commenter above. They turned out beautifully (just like the picture, haha!) and were pretty easy to make -- really the most work is rolling the balls of cookie dough, which is *marginally* more time-consuming than making drop cookies, but one of the pleasures of baking is the tactile experience, anyway, and this dough has such a nice texture that it was fun to play with it!

I'd never had chocolate gingerbread before (chocolate-covered gingerbread yes, but not this kind) and the combination was toothsome indeed -- I can't believe it's not more common. Actually I only got to taste one cookie (!) because we brought them to a party, but given the fact that they disappeared very quickly, I think I can safely say they were delicious :-) . If I tried it again I would definitely use the fresh ginger as well for some textural interest, and maybe even add some crystallised as well.

-- PS

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I loved the sound of your recipe and have made it up exactly to the recipe up to the fridge stage. It's sitting in the fridge, little rolled blobs on a plate. But I have to say the batter tastes super strongly of molasses, and it's quite bitter as a result. Not at all palatable. An acquired taste maybe, but just not something one would want to eat a lot of. I don't hold out much hope of the cookies being nice to eat either. I'm wondering whether the brand of molasses I,ve used is just too unrefined. I would like to try the same but using the sweeter more refined version treacle or very sweet version golden sryup....

AKR said...

For the July 2 comment about having bitter dough, I think the problem is that the molasses should be unsulphured. Sometimes sulphur is added as a preservative and it can have a bitter taste.