Saturday, October 19, 2019

Warm Spices in a Crinkle Cookie

Now that the weather has finally taken a turn towards cooler temperatures, I find myself thinking about using the warm spices of fall and winter - cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, allspice - and so I was thrilled to find a recipe in a magazine I took out of the library recently that uses a lot of those. The magazine is the Martha Stewart Living magazine from December 2018 and the cookies are Gingerbread-Espresso Crinkle Cookies. I think that it was the addition of the espresso that caught my attention. I'd never thought of adding it, but it seems right and did, indeed, add a rich deep note to these gingery cookies. The second reason I decided to make them was that Sweetie loves anything with molasses and these cookies have both brown sugar and liquid molasses in them.

These are crinkle cookies, meaning that you roll the dough in balls and roll the balls in sugar, as shown above. When baked the cookies have grown a bit, so the sugar gets sort of cracked and there are lovely fissures of cookies and areas covered with sugar between. For this recipe you roll the dough in both granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar. Just remember that confectioners' sugar is the glitter of the culinary seems to go everywhere while you are working with it! The cookies aren't too sweet, even with all that sugar coating and the texture is crisp on the outside and slightly chewy in the center. I gave some to my neighbor and she enjoyed them in the morning with coffee.

You do need to start theses cookies at least four hours before you plan to bake them, but the dough can also sit in the fridge for three days, or you can freeze it for up to a month, making them a nice thing to have on hand for when a yen for cookies hits. They're not refrigerator cookies exactly, but the time in the fridge lets the flavors meld. You can shape and sugar a tray of cookie in about the time it takes to preheat your oven and then shape the next cookie sheet worth while the first one cooks, or you can bake two sheets at once, but be sure to turn the sheets around and switch the rack they are on about half way through baking.

These are pretty enough for a tea party, but simple enough for everyday eating...ready to bake?

Gingerbread-Espresso Crinkle Cookies
Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Dec 2018
Makes about 30 cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
granulated sugar (about 1/2 cup) and confectioner's sugar (about 1 cup) for rolling

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer bowl beat the butter with the grated ginger and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses; beat until combined. Add egg and beat until combined. Scrape bowl and beaters and beat to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating only until combined with no dry flour remaining.

Transfer the dough to plastic wrap, pat into a disk, wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days (or freeze up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator before using).

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds if baking two sheets at a time.

Place granulated sugar in one shallow bowl and confectioners' sugar in another.

Using a 1-oz scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop rounded spoons of dough, roll into balls and put into the bowl of granulated sugar. Roll around to coat, then transfer to the bowl of confectioners' sugar. Turn dough balls to fully coat. Balls should be heavily coated; don't shake off excess. If dough becomes sticky as it warms, dust your hands with confectioners' sugar and continue to make balls of dough. Once each dough ball is heavily coated with confectioners' sugar, place it on the prepared sheet, leaving 2 inches between balls.

Bake, rotating sheets and rack positions once halfway through, until cookies spread and surfaces appear cracked, 15 - 17 minutes (I found that closer to 12 minutes was sufficient). Let cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, between sheets of parchment, up to 5 days.

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