It may not be a very good month for snow thus far in Jackson Hole, but it's proving to be a good month for cookies. Since I'm not wasting my time swooshing through untracked powder in the mountains, I've retreated to the warmth of my kitchen, and the comfort of cookies, lots and lots of cookies.
In fact, the less it snows the more I bake, as we need to console ourselves with cookies. It works out fine that way.
After much deliberation, I opted to bring pizzelles to the cookie exchange. We can't have Christmas without them.
I was fortunate to get invited to a cookie exchange last week, which inspired me to get going on my long list of essential Christmas cookies. There's nothing like the spectacle of dozens of great cooks displaying their very best cookies for an afternoon of swapping and snacking, catching up and relaxing.
This is Lena's 19th year hosting a cookie exchange.
If you've never been to a cookie exchange, here's how it works. There is one very gracious host, usually the most organized friend in the group, who sends out invitations early enough to give you a few weeks to mull over your cookie baking plans.
Is there anything more lovely than a chewy ginger cookie?
Twinkly star cookies capture the Christmas spirit.
You will be asked to bring 2-3 dozen cookies for the cookie table, and you will be allowed to choose the same amount to take home. Only 2-3 dozen! That's the tough part if you are a cookie monster like me.
Lena makes an army of little chocolate covered cherry mice every year. Not only kids find them irresistible.
Once I get into the holiday baking mood, my kitchen becomes a cookie factory, albeit a messy one. There's not enough time to make all the cookies I want to make, so I go for big-batch crowd-pleasing perennial favorites.
I'd been planning to candy my own lemon, orange and grapefruit peel, but then I found these already made at Aspens Market. At $2.50 each, an incredible deal and timesaver.
If all goes as planned there will be Chocolate Anise Biscotti
, both with and without diced candied orange peel. There will be Sour Cream Cut-Outs and Ninjabread Men
, Butter Mint Pats and Cappucino Coins. There will be several hundred little Rum Balls
, made this year with premium cocoa powder from Caputo's Market in Salt Lake City.
Have you checked out Caputo's Market and Deli in Salt Lake City? They have 6 types of cocoa imported from Italy, which you can buy in bulk.
Rum Balls are the all-purpose holiday pick-me-up. Rich with cocoa and pecans, boozy with rum, and potent with dark coffee, they will help you get through the holidays.
There has already been a batch of Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies, which did not last long, so I'll be making more of those. Made with freshly grated ginger, ground ginger, nutmeg, molasses, and your very best chocolate, they are chewy and crispy and rich, the ultimate chocolate ginger cookie. I may be going out on a limb here, but if I had to pick just one cookie for Christmas, this would be it.
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
And there will be a trio of my very own power bars
, some made with peanut butter and granola, others with almond butter, figs and chocolate. These will be boxed up into colorful tins and given to the über-athletic friends on my list, to be stashed in their backpacks throughout the winter for high energy snacks.
Chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies get their kick from a heaping tablespoon of fresh ginger.
Let the baking begin.
For a printable version of this recipe, click on the file below it.
Chewy Chocolate GInger Cookies
If I had to pick just one cookie to make for Christmas, I think this would be it.
This recipe comes from Martha Stewart in her cookbook Cookies
. No matter what you think about Martha Stewart, she does have the legacy of some very nice cookie recipes.
Yield: 2 dozen. Plan ahead: the dough should be chilled for 2 hours in the refrigerator before it is rolled into balls. I usually just stick the bowl outside, and let the subzero temperatures do the chilling.
This is an excellent recipe to practice Mis en Place.
Get all your ingredients measured and ready, and lined up in the order you'll need them.
- 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
- 7 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling the cookie dough balls before baking)
I used 70% cocoa Valrhona chocolate for my cookies. I like to chop it into shards and chunks for contrasting texture.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- In a bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and fresh ginger on medium speed until lightened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
- In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add the baking soda mixture. Now add the rest of the flour and mix well.
- Add the chocolate to the dough and mix until just combined.
- Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and pat out to a 1 inch thickness. Seal with wrap, and chill for 2 hour or overnight in the refrigerator, or at least 30 minutes in the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 325º F. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and chill for another 20 minutes.
- Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surface begins to crack, 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake! The cookies will set up after they are taken out of the oven.
- Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
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