Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gingersnap Cookies (Asian Inspired)



Whoever invented these cookies needs a plaque of honor hang on their headstone (Assuming they're no longer with us). These are one of my all-time favorite cookies! They strike a beautiful balance between sweet and savory. My first memory of gingersnap cookies was when I was about 5yrs old. The major cookie maker in Kenya at that time, House Of Manji, made these and did a wonderful job! I remember dunking them in some hot tea the first time I tried them. When that cookie had sopped up the tea and I took that first bite....transcendence! That first bite transformed into a mouthful of goodness that my 5yr old vocabulary could not find words to describe. It was SO good!! And so began my obsession with this cookie. Through the years, I've tried several recipes for this cookie, trying to recreate that first experience I had so many years ago. I think I may have found a recipe that comes close to the very first gingersnaps I tried. I did, however, add my own spin to it. I added crystalized ginger and Chinese Five Spice to the dough. These cookies would still taste good without these two ingredients, but using them only makes a good thing taste even better. Here's the recipe.....

PS: You can crush these cookies in a food processor or a plastic food storage bag to make crumbs that you can use as a base for your cheesecake. Talk about versatility ;)

Serving Size: Makes 31 cookies.


Equipment:

-2 large baking sheets.

-Electric  mixer (or you can hand-mix with a wooden spoon but be prepared to work).

-1 medium bowl.

-1 large bowl.

-Spatula.

-Wire whisk.

-Tablespoon or small cookie scoop.

-Cling foil (plastic foil).




Ingredients:

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda (NOT baking powder).

-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

-1/4 teaspoon salt.

-2 teaspoons ground ginger.

-1/3 cup granulated sugar on a flat plate.

-1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spices (can be found in the International/Ethnic aisle of your grocery store, in the Asian section). Alternatively, you can use the same amount of allspice.

-1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed.

-3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature (about 16 tablespoons of butter). If you decide to use salted butter, leave out the salt called for in this recipe.

-1/4 cup unsulphured molasses.

-1 large egg at room temperature, slightly beaten.

-1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped. This is optional. You can find this ingredient in the international/ethnic aisle of the grocery store, in the Asian section.









Instructions:

-In a medium bowl, combine the dry flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, ground ginger and Chinese Five Spices. Using a whisk, combine the ingredients well. Set aside.

-In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until well combined. Using your Spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure that all the sugar is mixed in well.

-Add in the egg and molasses and continue beating, at medium speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy.


-Add in the flour mixture and mix at low speed, just until mixture is combined as shown below.


-Switch to the use of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula at this point to scrape the sides of the bowl and ensure that there's no traces of the flour mixture showing. 

-Carefully fold the chopped, crystallized ginger into the dough using a wooden spoon. Be careful not to over mix, or you'll end up with hard cookies. These cookies should be crunchy on the outside, with a chewy inside.


-Dump the dough onto a piece of cling/plastic foil, shape the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in the cling foil. Chill the wrapped dough in the refregerator for an hour to make the dough easy to handle.


****Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celcius) before you begin the next step****

NOTE: You can store this dough in the fridge for up to 4 days, if you want to bake little batches at a time. Just make sure it is tightly wrapped 

- After an hour, use either your hands, a tablespoon or a small cookie scoop to get even amounts of the dough, and shape them into small balls (1 inch in diameter).


-Rub a small amount of cooking oil between your hands to help prevent the cookie dough from sticking on your hands. Roll out the scoops of dough between your hands, then press the ball between your hands to slightly flatten it.


-Drop the little cookie discs onto the plate of granulated sugar (make sure the sugar sticks on both sides).

-Place the unbaked cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart from each other (allowing them space to spread. If you place them too close, they will end up baking into each other). Bake them in the oven for 24 minutes. If you are using a single tray to bake your cookies, allow the baking sheet time to cool down after each batch of cookies is done. If you are using two baking trays, be sure to stagger them In the oven to allow maximum air flow (Don't place the baking sheets directly ontop of each other on the oven racks). Also, switch the cookie trays around halfway through baking (if you are baking on two cookie sheets at the same time).


-Once cooked, use a spatula to immediately transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before enjoying them.

Storage: Once completely cool, these cookies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week if kept in a container with a tightly fitting lid. 

These cookies go exceptionally well with a chilled cup of milk on a warm day, or a hot cup of coffee or tea anytime. I enjoyed mine with a hot cup is masala tea. Mmmm....bliss!!