y’all should be angry with me for keeping these chewy ginger cookies from you for so long. i mean, technically they’ve been available to you, if you haunt epicurious or have a copy of bon appétit’s march 2000 issue lying around, but if you don’t, well, i’m sorry it’s taken me so long to share.
these are my long-standing favorite ginger cookie, by a wide margin. and i say that as someone who loves ginger and takes taste testing ginger cookies quite seriously. since i suspect there are two camps with respect to ginger cookies, i should come right out and state that these are emphatically soft, chewy ginger cookies. these are not ginger snaps (<– which i totally just blanked on the name of and tried to call ginger “crisps”. as always, thank goodness for google’s suggestions…)
anyway, these cookies are… just so good. as in, when i made them most recently to take these photographs of them, i promptly stuffed an inappropriate quantity of them in my mouth in the few minutes between finishing the photo shoot and packaging them up in containers and putting them out in the mudroom to take to friends the following day. there was no way that they could just sit innocently on the kitchen counter for 24 hours and not be nearly devoured by the next day. don’t say i didn’t warn you…
besides the ridiculous amount of deliciousness packed into these cookies, they are also excellent travelers and very patient if you don’t eat all of them immediately. in fact, the first time i tried these cookies was when my friend shipped them across the country to me (a process that obviously took several days and involved a bunch of jostling). since they are soft, they arrived intact and fresh. which is definitely a bonus this time of year if you are sending edible gifts, participating in cookie swaps, or just get annoyed when cookies are much less yummy on day two.
as soon as bit into that first cookie i received, i immediately ran to my computer to demand the recipe from my kind friend. when she sent it, i saw that she had done her research, as the recipe currently has a 4/4 rating from 375 reviewers on epicurious, with 96% of reviewers saying they would make the cookies again (i really don’t know who those 4% are…).
recently i sat down to read through all of the comments to see what we could learn from others who had already made these and here’s what i learned: a) it’s really difficult/impossible to replicate the texture shown in the picture on the epicurious website, b) a lot of people have nevertheless tried, and c) 375 is a lot of comments.
i will confess that i didn’t make it all the way through the comments but what i learned is that basically ever since crisco changed their formula around 2007/2008, everyone has been struggling to reproduce the fluffy cookies in the photo. as i was first introduced to the cookies after the formula switch and my friend didn’t use shortening anyway, these are the cookies i have always known and loved. (which makes me wonder why i am even telling you all of this and risking setting you up to be disappointed…)
in short, these cookies are amazing, yours will likely look like mine (which are delicious and soft and chewy), and if you’re a baking nerd, the epicurious comment thread on these chewy ginger cookies is interesting (at least for the first 19 pages). and since you may be wondering, we’re using mostly butter here, because it’s delicious, with a little bit of oil, to help keep the cookies soft and moist.
alright, enough talking, more baking!
- 240 g. (2 cups / 8 ½ oz.) all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 92 g. (3/4 cup / 3 ¼ oz.) finely chopped crystallized ginger, see notes
- 213 g. (1 packed cup / 7 ½ oz.) dark brown sugar
- 1 stick (113 g. / 4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (60 ml) neutral flavor oil, such as extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (60 ml) mild/light molasses, see notes
- 99 g. (½ cup / 3 ½ oz.) granulated or turbinado/coarse sugar to coat the cookies
- in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; stir until blended. mix in the crystallized ginger.
- in the bowl of your electric mixer or a large bowl, use the paddle attachment to beat the brown sugar and butter on medium speed (level 4 on a kitchenaid stand mixer) until they’re fluffy, about 3 minutes. stop the mixer and add the oil, egg, and molasses. on a lower speed (level 2 on a kitchenaid), beat the wet ingredients until they are blended. turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and add the flour mixture. mix just until blended, about 20 seconds. the dough will be quite soft. cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a large plate and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours (up to overnight), until it is firm.
- preheat the oven to 350° F. line 2 baking sheets with parchment or lightly butter the baking sheets (even if they are usually non-stick). put the granulated or turbinado/coarse sugar in a bowl so that you can roll the cookie dough balls around in it before baking. form dough into 22 – 25 g. (1 ¼” / 3 cm) balls and roll them in the sugar to coat them before placing them at least 2” (5 cm) apart on the baking sheet. these cookies will spread pretty vigorously so don’t crowd them. if the dough warmed up at all while you were working with it, place the sheet with the dough balls in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again before you put the sheet in the oven. this is especially important as you’re getting towards the end of the second sheet and the dough has been out of the refrigerator for a while.
- bake the cookies for 10 – 12 minutes, until they are cracked on top but still soft to the touch. as always with cookies, you don’t want to overbake them. cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute then carefully remove them to cooling racks to finish cooling. once cool, the cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature. they will last at least 5 days without noticeably degrading, but i don’t suspect you’ll have them around that long…
a couple notes on the crystallized ginger…
first, look for crystallized ginger (thin strips with sugar granules all over it), not candied ginger (cubes dusted in finely ground sugar), as the crystallized is much easier to chop.
second, chop the ginger by hand with a sharp knife; don’t put it in the food processor or blender.
third, if you have a trader joe’s near you, that’s definitely your best (cheapest) option for buying crystallized ginger; they sell an 8 oz. bag of it for less than $2. if you don’t have TJ’s, check the bulk bins and the random shelves around the produce area at your local grocery store for crystallized ginger. nuts.com also sells it for $6/lb. whatever you do, do NOT purchase those tiny little bottles of it in the spice aisle because then these cookies will cost you $200 to make and you won’t do it and we’ll both be sad.
molasses - grandma’s brand is mild and readily available in most grocery stores.
adapted from bon appétit's ginger spice cookies, available on epicurious.
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