These ginger molasses cookies are the latest success in my ongoing efforts to master cookie baking. So far, I’ve found recipes I love for chocolate chip, shortbread and now these ginger cookies. Not an extensive or impressive list, admittedly, but, the truth is, I don’t really love cookies. I rarely crave sweets and when I do I always seems to want some sort of elaborate cake. Which, perhaps for obvious reasons, I rarely actually make. I know, cookies are far more practical for satisfying a sweet tooth than cakes. They are much faster to make, they often require only one bowl, and they allow for a mixture of textures that is uncommon in all but the most elaborate cakes. Even so, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would bake cookies, when they could be baking a cake instead. If you are going to eat sweets, why not eat something really special. I have a tendency towards this sort of all or nothing thinking.
And yet, for some reason I have always felt like baking cookies is an essential skill – one that I need to acquire. Perhaps, on some level, I am anticipating a hypothetical moment in the future when I may have children to bake for and with. Of all the expectations that are placed on women if they are to be “good mothers”, most of which I maintain a healthy scepticism of, I seem to have internalized the imperative to bake good cookies. This is important, right? Because children love cookies, don’t they? But – do children love ginger molasses cookies? Probably not. Well, let’s just say, spice cookies are a more sophisticated offering.
I have wanted to make homemade ginger cookies for quite some time because they remind me of a great uncle, my grandmother’s brother, that we used to visit as children. He had a big friendly dog, and an old fashioned whetstone wheel in his backyard (don’t ask me for what purpose) that inevitably inspired my sister and I to rounds of “There’s a hole in the bucket” - so we could properly act out the “then sharpen it” verse. And he always had a box of ginger snaps for us. Now, this recipe does not quite re-create the rock hard store bought cookies my great uncle would give us (they were more of a gingersnap than a soft molasses cookie), but they have the same gingery flavour. These cookies have soft chewy insides, and crunchy exteriors, made crunchier by sprinkling raw sugar on top.
I intended to make Ina Garten’s “ultimate ginger cookies”, but ran out of all-purpose flour so I made some adjustments to the flour composition. I almost never tinker with the foundations of baked good recipes, because baking is too much of a science, but in this case the risk paid off. Finally, I omitted the crystallized ginger, which I couldn’t find at my grocery store, and amped up the spice level by adding a bit more of each spice than was found in the original recipe. I like a good punch of flavour, even from a cookie.
1 cup & 2 tablespoons bread flour
1 ¼ cup & 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup & 5 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup molasses
Raw sugar, for rolling the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a medium sized bowl, sift the flours, wheat gluten (if using), baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves and salt. Whisk together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, oil, and molasses. Mix in the egg. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined.
Scoop the dough with a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon and roll into 1 3/4-inch balls. Flatten them with your fingers and press the tops of each cookie in the raw sugar and place them on the sheet pans.
Bake one sheet of cookies at time (if you bake both sheets together, the cookies on the bottom will taste good, but will not have the pretty crinkles) for 12-15 minutes each (12 if you want softer cookies, 15 if you want crisper cookies). Remove from the oven and let them cool on the sheet pans for a coupe of minutes, until firm enough to transfer to wire racks. Cool completely and pack into a container.
When removed from the oven, the cookies will be very soft. They will firm up as they cool.