This cookie has an almost explosive flavor and very nearly blows the top of my head off! Thanks to my Aunt Dodie, the recipe has been floating around the family for more years than I can remember. We make it every Christmas and at as many other times as possible. Dark and sugary with a deep punch of ginger and the tang of molasses, it warms your soul on cold and dreary winter days.
To sound more erudite and scientific (LOL), I’ve been researching the two key ingredients – ginger and molasses. Of course this is just an excuse to indulge my curiosity but doing it to make a better blog reduces my guilt about surfing the web so much!
What did I find out? Well, not everything I’d hoped (will just have to keep surfing!) but still lots of info.
I had hoped to read about what in ginger sets our taste buds and sense of smell tingling with joy- no luck on that so far. I did read descriptions of the flavors of ginger, it’s history and origin, how it’s used, how to purchase it and store it, but not what compounds in ginger trigger the taste bud extravaganza when we eat it. I’ll keep looking and maybe post more later.
- It originated in Southeastern Asia.
- The Romans imported ginger from Asia at least 2,000 years ago.
- It was so popular a spice that by the 14th century it was found in Briton on dining tables right next to the salt and pepper, to be sprinkled on food. By the 1800s, it was available in shakers on pub tables where customers put it in their ale.
- Ginger is now grown in nearly every tropical and subtropical area in the world.
- The only commercial ginger grown in the US is from Hawaii.
- Today, the top commercial producers of ginger are Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia.
- Ginger is also popular for health reasons, with advantages so numerous you’d think it’s a total panacea!
Enough of fun gingerisms. I still want to know what we’re tasting in ginger that is described as warm, citrusy, earthy and that I love so much!
Like cinnamon, the best ground ginger I've ever had is from Penzeys, and you can get it here: Penzeys Ginger
- Molasses is a by-product of sugar production.
- The sugar cane is squeezed/crushed to release the juice and cooked down to crystalize the sugar in that juice.
- Molasses is the liquid left after the sugar crystals are removed (for our granulated sugar).
- Molasses flavor, sweetness and strength vary depending on how many times the juice is heated and the sugar crystals removed. Typically, the sweetest molasses comes from the first boiling, and the most robust flavor from the third boiling.
- Molasses from the third boiling is called “blackstrap”.
- In the past, food manufacturers put sulphur into molasses as a preservative, but don’t usually do that any longer because it doesn’t really need it and it’s not as healthy that way.
- Molasses is totally yummy! (Ok, my opinion, not a researched fact. But it’s my blog, I can say that if I want to!)
Now that I’ve teased you with all this information, let’s just go on to the recipe.
In the past, we always made these cookies with shortening (Crisco being the family standard). I’d imagine that was primarily cost control. Now I make it with butter, as I avoid baking with shortening at nearly any cost. The cookie comes out firmer and with more cracks on top when made with shortening, and softer and flatter when made with butter. But the taste difference is well worth the cracking sacrifice.
Here’s the recipe, give it a shot and think of my Aunt Dodie when you do! And remember, baking is love and baking for other people is a way to gift them with love!
Download the recipe here:
By Dodie Freed
1 ½ cup (341g) Butter, unsalted
2 cup (396) Sugar
2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup, 170g Molasses
1 tsp Salt
4 tsp Soda
4 cup (480g) AP Flour
11/2 tsp Ginger, ground
2 tsp Cinnamon
Sugar for rolling
Preheat the oven to 350F
1. Pre-weigh or measure all ingredients
- Place the flour, soda, ginger and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend or sift together.
- Place the eggs in a small bowl, add the molasses and blend with a whisk or spoon.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer or in a larger bowl you will mix in
3. Turn off the mixer, scrape the bowl and add the egg and molasses. Mix on medium low until well blended.
4. Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl and add the dry ingredients.
5. Mix on low until just barely combined.
6. Put the cookie dough in the refrigerator and chill until completely cool.
7. Using a 2 tsp cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop out cookie dough in roll between your palms to make balls.
8. Roll the balls in sugar, and place on ungreased cookie sheets (or parchment covered cookie sheets).
9. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cracked on top.
10. Remove from the oven and cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes then move to racks.
11. Eat and enjoy!