Santa Claus leaves you your heart’s fondest desires, you leave him cookies. It’s hardly a fair trade. For all the effort the man goes to compiling lists, making toys, and delivering them, he could easily just make all the cookies he wants several times over. He’s going the extra mile for you. How about doing the same for him and making him some outstanding cookies?
These ginger cookies bring it all- they’re sweet and spicy. They’re delightfully chewy. The star anise and the salt give them a sophisticated flavor that will appeal to grown-ups, but kids will love them, too. I mean, they’re cookies.
A few notes on the recipe: Don’t be daunted by the food processor step with the crystallized ginger. If you like, you can mince ginger by hand. I found this took forever (blame my terrible knife skills) and so I busted out the heavy machinery. Also, these cookies are wonderfully soft and dense in the middle. Test a few to see what the best cooking time is–you do not want to overcook them.
Ultimate Ginger Cookies (adapted from Heidi Swanson’s excellent blog 101 Cookbooks)¨
makes over 40 cookies
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground star anise
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for topping cookies
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 unsulphured molasses
2/3 cup fine granulated sugar
1 1/2″ section of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 egg well-beaten
1 cup crystallized ginger, roughly chopped
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup, or more, large-grain turbinado sugar
Set out all of your ingredients so they can come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. Pour the turbinado sugar into a large, shallow bowl and set aside.
Place the crystallized ginger the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the pieces are broken up. They will quickly form a ball, try to stop just when the pieces start to clump, but have not become a solid ball. The results will be pretty sticky, but clean off easily. Remove the ginger paste to a bowl.
Combine the flour, baking soda, star anise, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat–the butter should melt but not cook. Add the molasses, granulated sugar, and fresh ginger. Check that the mixture is just warm (let it cool if it’s at all hot) and then add the egg. Pour the mixture over the flour, and stir in the crystallized ginger and lemon zest. Stir ingredients just until combined.
Roll 1 teaspoon of dough into a small ball, and roll briefly in the sugar. Place each dough round on the prepared baking sheets, two inches apart. If you like, sprinkle a few flecks of kosher salt on top of each cookie. Bake for 7 minutes, until the cookies are a bit crackled, and have puffed up.
Remove from cookie sheet right away and cool on a wire rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to four days, or well-sealed in the freezer for up to 6 months.