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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giant Ginger Cookies

Well, it's official. I've decided to stoop to bribery. Actually, the students I have at my new school are quite good and - for the most part - I am enjoying my new job. I really wish it were a part time gig so that I could teach and not only teach. I do occasionally like to do things other than grade papers, plan lessons, and copy handouts. The thing is, I figure with bribery, I can kill two birds with one stone. Not only can I provide incentive to my students, but I can play in the kitchen and not have to eat everything that is its result. So, I have decided to start testing some cookie recipes. Cookies travel well and everyone loves them.

These gems turned out pretty darn good. It's from a cut out in my recipe binder. It looks like it's from way back based on its placement in the book and the food stains on the nearby pages. Amazingly though, all I had to do was Google the name of the recipe and there it was. It's a Better Homes & Gardens recipe and I think it's worth sharing with you. You could just go straight to their page, but then you wouldn't get to hear my two cents (that is why you're here, right?).

My first concern while making them was the amount of cloves. A whole teaspoon... were they sure? I worried that it was too much, but I figured they must have tested the recipe, so I decided to go with it. I'm glad I did. The mixture of spices in these cookies is just right. There's a slight bite (at over a tablespoon of dried ginger powder, one would think so!), but it's not too much.

Really, I think this is a nice recipe, but I think their baking times are way off. The cookies are huge balls of dough - 2 inches across - that they do not instruct you to flatten at all. I hit the recommended 12-14 minute point and my cookies had barely started to lose their ball shape. I think it took mine nearly half an hour to bake. Now, I did use cold shortening (I keep it in the fridge for pie crusts), but I think that the best thing is to slightly flatten the cookie before baking. And, while you want to be careful not to over bake if you want chewy cookies, you also don't want to under bake them. I liked how the edges were nice and crunchy in a pleasingly tender way. Be sure that you let them bake long enough to get a little golden color for the best flavor.

Giant Ginger Cookies
Yield: 25 four-inch cookies
from Better Homes & Gardens

4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp dried, ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
coarse sugar for rolling (granulated works, too)

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the shortening and sugar together until it is slightly fluffy. Add the eggs and molasses and beat until well mixed. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet and beat to incorporate.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment or simply place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Roll dough into 2-inch diameter balls and roll in the sugar. Place on the pan, leaving 2-3 inches space between cookies. Flatten slightly with your hands to help them bake more quickly and evenly.

Put in the oven and bake until they are nice and crackly and have a light golden color on them, about 15-20 minutes. The centers should be set but not dry. Timing will vary depending on the starting temperature of your dough and how much you flatten them, so keep an eye on them.

Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

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