In case you've been wondering, no, I haven't disappeared off the face of the Earth. I've just been so incredibly swamped for the past week at my day job and then had to leave on my vacation to SoCal! So for the past few days, I've basically been here:
Then, when I got to L.A. after driving down Highway 1, my friend informs me that I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for seven people. On the day BEFORE Thanksgiving! (okay, to be fair, she gave me a week's warning... but still!) So, today has been all about running around and shopping and baking desserts. What a vacation, huh? As much as I love cooking, part of me does wish that I could be back here:
Given the whirlwind that's been my past week and a half, I haven't even had time to post this recipe that I've been so excited about for a few weeks now: Ginger Sugar Cookies! Now, this obsession all started this past summer when my good friend, Priscilla, introduced me to Bakesale Betty in Oakland. I have to say--how I lived in the East Bay for practically all of my life and never knew about Bakesale Betty, I don't know! It's such a cool storefront. Basically, all they sell is a few types of cookies, seasonal pies (or strawberry shortcake in the summers), and coleslaw-fried chicken sandwiches. That's it. But they sell a lot of it! And everything is so amazingly YUM. Trust me, if you're in the area, you MUST go.
Anyways, Bakesale Betty has one of the best ginger sugar cookies that I have ever had. And I'm not talking gingersnaps. These are proper, large, chewy cookies of goodness.
Bakesale Betty ginger cookies
Bakesale Betty's ginger sugar cookies are not only the perfect balance of chewiness and sweetness, they also have huge chunks of crystallized ginger in them that make them truly ultra-gingery! I recently got so obsessed with these cookies that within the course of three weeks, I drove the hour drive across the Bay to get a hold of these. I also made sure to pack some for the drive down to L.A.
Inspired by Bakesale Betty, I decided to try my hand at ginger sugar cookies as well. Now, I have to tell you that if you're looking for the Bakesale Betty cookies verbatim, these are not it. But I would say that these brown butter ginger cookies are a great spin-off to the classic ginger cookie.
Brown butter ginger sugar cookies
The brown butter in these cookies add a rich, dark depth of flavor which couples nicely with the molasses. And, I took a cue from Bakesale Betty and included chopped crystallized ginger in the cookies for an extra spicy kick. Perhaps the most special thing about these brown butter ginger cookies is their shape: instead of being large and flat like many store-bought cookies, these are somewhat mounded:
I've found that this mounding is the trick to achieving that perfect cakey-chewy texture balance that you find in store-bought cookies. You see, because they're big in diameter, store-bought cookies manage to be chewy and moist in the center despite their flatness, but if you try to imitate the same thickness at home with a smaller cookie, the centers just dry out. So the solution that I've found is creating these mounded cookies, which allow and preserve the moistness in the centers.
So how did my ginger cookies stack up against Bakesale Betty's? See for yourself!
My cookies definitely weren't the same as Bakesale Betty's, but they most definitely helped to satisfy my ginger sugar cookie craving!
Here's wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving with plenty of amazing food! Make sure to save room for dessert--or, do what I would and eat dessert first. ;-P.
Read on for recipe...
Brown Butter Ginger Cookies
makes ~5 dozen
5 cups flour
4 tspn baking soda
2 tspn ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbspn ground ginger
1 tspn ground cloves
1/2 tspn salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup brown butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbspn molasses
1 cup chopped crystallized ginger (bigger pieces are better than smaller, IMO)
1. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
3. Stir the eggs and molasses into the butter mixture.
4. In two stages, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until combined. Stir in chopped ginger
5. Let the dough rest, covered in plastic-wrap, in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Remove dough from freezer. Shape the dough into small spheres, about an inch and a half in diameter. Place the dough spheres on silpats, parchment paper, or a greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Press down lightly--but only enough to keep the dough spheres from rolling. Do not press the cookies flat!
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until firm.