I’ve been meaning to make these cookies for a few days now, but our unusually mild weather (as in 70 degrees, in October) just isn’t conducive to baking ginger cookies. At least not in my book. At the very least, I need a little grey sky with the promise of rain. We have the grey skies today, but the rain isn’t coming until tomorrow. As Adam left for class this morning he looked over his shoulder and said, “You are making cookies today, right?” Don’t have much of choice, now do I?
These cookies are unbelievably good. Crispy, salty, sweet and savory. All of my taste buds were in pleasure mode and this was the first time that I shot and nibbled at the same time. Yeah, that good. They were inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Triple Ginger Cookies. I didn’t change too much of the recipe because her version is clearly perfect as is, but I did tweak it here and there.
Heidi’s recipe calls for ground star anise. I decided to go with fennel seeds I had on hand that I minced as finely as I could then smashed in our mortar and pestle. Why fennel seeds? It’s just felt right. Cooking is part intuition and part inspiration, no? I also omitted her lemon zest and squeezed fresh lemon juice into the batter instead to offer a bit of brightness. Again, it felt like the thing to do.
Heidi hand-rolled her cookies into little bite-sized balls, which I may try next time, but I had just picked up a moon shaped cookie cutter and was dying to use it. Plus there are few things as meditative and calming as rolling out dough with your rolling pin and gently cutting it into shapes.
You would think with this much ginger involved, the cookies would be a fiery inferno of ginger, but not so. Gently warming the fresh and crystallized ginger in the molasses and butter seemed to have softened their bite. Oh, these cookies have some punch, don’t get me wrong, just not as intense as you would think.
I also baked these cookies a bit longer than Heidi recommends. I wanted them to be crisp like a ginger snap. So if you’d like yours to be softer and chewy then cut a few minutes off the cooking time.
These ginger cookies surely need to be shared, but we’ll see if Adam lets me :)
2 cups spelt flour. Alternatively, feel free to use whole-wheat or all-purpose.
1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2/3 cup fine grain cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 egg, beaten
1 cup crystallized ginger, finely minced
Juice of one small lemon, or zest of two lemons
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, fennel, ground ginger and salt.
In a large skillet, gently warm butter until it is about half melted. Stir in molasses, cane sugar and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm to touch, but not hot. Whisk in egg. Stir the flour and crystallized ginger into the skillet. I used my hands to break up the clumps of ginger so it mixed more evenly. Add lemon juice or zest. Stir well.
Flour a flat surface and roll out the dough till it’s about a 1/4 inch thick. You may need to flour your rolling-pin as well since this dough may stick to it. Cut dough into shapes of your choice and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. I also sprinkled half of my cookies with coarse sea salt and turbinado sugar offering a wonderful flavor burst of salty, sweet, and spicy.
Make about 4 dozen cookies.