“An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread...”
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
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.