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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Smart Cookie




Yesterday, my son told me that he had eaten a meringue from the bakery near his school and that he had really enjoyed it. I asked him if he would like to make some the next day, seeing that the next day was a Sunday and I needed to get started on my christmas baking. There was no reason not to add some nice little meringues to my baking repertoire, I actually have cream of tartar in the cupboard and he seemed exited about the prospect of making them. I read about a hundred recipes for meringues and finally settled on the recipe we will use and while I am searching, I get the brilliant idea to make a pavlova for my christmas dinner dessert. I love pavlova and it's one of those things that most people have never had and assume that it is some sort of rare, exotic dish that takes days of preparation and hours of sweat and tears. They never need to know that making a pavlova is basically dessert making for dummies.
It's all good in the shack household and we go to bed, exited about our anticipated baking adventure.





We wake up to a no good, terrible, rainy day. It's mid December and all around us we hear tales of snow and storms and winter wonderlands but here in downtown Toronto, it's mild enough to wear nothing but sneakers and a light jacket and it's pissing rain. Every single recipe for meringues did their best to put the fear of god into me and warned me that no one is to attempt to make meringues if it's raining or if you have just run the dishwasher or if your oven is in the bathroom and you have just finished a long, hot shower. Humidity + meringues = unmitigated disaster. I thought I safe planning a meringue making day in mid December in Toronto. I was wrong.

It was time to bake some cookies instead. I was about to make my regular molasses ginger crisps that I make every year when I had an idea. I had bought my good friend, Dianne,  the book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich for christmas and I had not wrapped it up yet. How cool would it be to bake a cookie from the book and give her a little bag of those cookies with the book as her gift?
So cool.
On the other hand, how tacky is it to open up the cookbook you bought for someone else and look through it and bake something out of it before your friend has even had a chance to look at it?
Don't answer that.

Alice Medrich has a delicious sounding recipe called simply, My Ginger  Cookies in her book and I have been craving a ginger molasses cookie that is more chewy. My ginger crisps are really crispy and I have the cookie I want to make in my mind but I haven't found a recipe yet that can produce that cookie so It was certainly worth a try. I carefully wrote down the recipe on a piece of paper so that I wouldn't soil the book as I am a very messy baker.

Here is the recipe:
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbls) butter, melted and still warm
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbls grated ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar for rolling



Preheat the oven to 350F and put the racks on the upper and lower 3rds of the oven. Combine the dry ingredients  - flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl.










Combine butter, molasses, sugars, fresh ginger and the egg in a larger bowl  mix it well. Add the flour, stir in the crystallized ginger and stir until it's all completely mixed in.










Make 1" balls and roll them in the sugar and place them on the baking sheet (that you have hopefully prepped with parchment paper by this point) about 2" apart and bake them from 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.


For chewier cookies take them out when at least half of the cookies have started to deflate. If you want them a bit crispier, keep them in for a minute longer.
I baked the first batch for 12 minutes and the second batch for 10 and the 10 minute batch were perfect. Crispy on the outside and cakey and chewy on the inside.
The only thing I would change next time is to use coarse sanding sugar instead of regular sugar to roll the cookies in because I really miss that extra crunch and they just aren't sparkly enough for me without it.

I just might have to buy this book for myself and now that I have gifted the book to the giftee, I can post about the cookies!