December, Day 21: Short on subtlety
I underestimated the amount of energy this blogging-every-day-thing was going to require. Snow-induced malaise combined with end-of-semester grading (DONE NOW, FINALLY) have dragged me away from the computer. I hope you’ll forgive the delinquency of the last couple days, but when the world finds itself covered in a foot thick blanket of powdery white and I’m in the mood to watch Christmas movies, I’m unlikely (at best) to pry myself from the couch to do anything. This was just such a weekend.
However, Sunday afternoon found me waking up (as from hibernation) and wanting a cookie. Specifically, I wanted one of the ginger sandwich cookies I baked for our party last week. So I peeled myself away from the couch and out from under the blanket and headed to the kitchen to bake.The recipe came from a Summer issue of Fine Cooking (yes, I agree these would be delicious on a picnic, but really, their spiciness and rich creaminess are SO perfectly suited to Winter, I’m not sure who thought to make them in June. Anyway, for the party I went with the recipe and made the filling a lemon cream. Yesterday though, I wanted something a little warmer, a little spicier. So I went with a cinnamon cream instead.
Also, (you could have seen this coming) the original recipe would have yielded a spicy, but mellow cookie and that just wouldn’t do. So I doubled the measurements of all the spices and amped up the filling with some extra vanilla.
The resulting cookie? Not subtle. But just my kind of treat. These would be well suited to a cup of Bailey’s hot chocolate, regular hot chocolate, warm milk (if that’s your kind of thing), or coffee, just after dinner. Also, I recommend making the cookies as small as possible – bite sized would be perfect. As it is, my cookies turned out to be about a three-bite cookie, which is lovely.
Ginger Sandwich Cookies
with Lemon Cream or Cinnamon Cream
adapted from Fine Cooking
For the cookies:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 t ground ginger
- 2 t ground cinnamon
- 1 t ground cardamom
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t kosher salt
- 3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 c granulated sugar; more for rolling
- 1/4 c unsulphured molasses
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 t pure vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment/silpat/butter (if you don’t have the former options).
- Whisk the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. (I wonder if it wouldn’t make sense to try the America’s Test Kitchen ‘reverse creaming’ method to control the puffiness here…)
- Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla. Beat until incorporated.
- On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Turn the dough out, shape it into a disk (think about pie dough) and put it in the fridge for an hour.
- Put some sugar in a bowl.
- Roll small pinches (~1 t) of dough into balls and roll in sugar to coat.
- Arrange the balls on the baking sheets about 2″ apart. (Original recipe suggests flattening the cookies with the bottom of a glass, which seems like a good idea!)
- Bake until the cookies feel dry to the touch and begin to firm up. Bake circa 13 minutes. (I have mixed feelings about how long to bake these cookies – I’ve both overbaked and underbaked them and every outcome has had pluses and minuses. The longer they bake – to a point, obviously – the better they look when cool, but they get really hard.)
- Cool completely on racks.
For LEMON Cream:
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used 8 oz.)
- 1 1/2 c powdered sugar (I used ~3 c)
- zest of one lemon (I used twice that)
- Mix the cream cheese and lemon zest till smooth.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
For CINNAMON Cream:
Same as above, but without lemon zest and WITH 1 1/2 T cinnamon (or to taste) and 1 t vanilla extract.
Assemble cookie sandwiches!