Christmas Cookies, Part 2: Chocolate Gingerbread

These are my oldest friends, I’ve been making them ten years and they are just lovely.

A word about what I call MSUB (Martha Stewart Unnecessary Busywork) or MSMSTC (Martha Stewart Making Simple Things Complicated).  The original recipe is full of both, but for about 5 years, I followed it to the letter.  Then I got smart.  So I’ll give you the original along with my smart fixes.  And smartass commentary.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

  • 7 oz best quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch chunks (*Whistle Blows*  OK, that right there is both MSUB and MSMSTC.  First of all, chocolate comes in 2-oz squares so getting 7 oz already presents complication.  Second, who chops chocolate?  Third…shut up, Martha.  Readers, go buy Nestle’s Dark Chocolate Chips.  They come in an 11-oz bag.  You can eyeball about 2/3 of the bag and eat the rest yourself)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (*ahem*)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (*Whistle Blows*  MSMSTC.  Ever try to peel and grate a ginger root?  It’s a fibrous mess.  Seek ye out bottled ground, or sometimes called “pressed” ginger.  Trader Joe’s has it and I see it all the time in the produce section of many grocery stores.  It works perfectly fine and is a handy thing to have in the house anyway, especially for Thai Coconut Soup)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp boiling water (Possible MSUB, but I’ll explain later)

Sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa, or, as I explained earlier, go fetch your ziplock bag labeled “Chocolate Gingerbread” with the pre-measured dry ingredients.  Oh my God, you are SO ORGANIZED!  I hate you.

In the electric mixer, cream the butter and pressed ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes, and by the way I personally make that a generous tablespoon of ginger.  Add the brown sugar and beat until combined.  Add the molasses and beat until combined.

In small bowl (or your measuring cup) dissolve the baking soda in boiling water.  Now this might be MSUB….or is it?  I could never understand the point of dissolving the baking soda in boiling water but I confess I’ve never tried skipping this step.  So I went and consulted the Oracle of Google and found this answer.  So now we know.

Beat half the flour mixture into the butter mixture.  Beat in the baking soda mixture, then the remaining flour mixture.  Mix in the chocolate chunks.  Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, seal and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.  (Or freeze.  Thaw frozen dough in fridge overnight)

Heat oven to 325.  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheet, refrigerate 20 minutes.  *Whistle Blows*  Combo MSUB and MSMSTC.  Who can fit cookie sheets into their fridge?  Anyone?  I didn’t think so.  Totally unnecessary, I never do it.  INSTEAD, roll the dough into balls.  Roll the balls in granulated sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and bake until the surfaces start to crack 13-15 minutes.  Transfer to wire racks.

These are at their absolute best right out of the oven while the chocolate is still gooey, with a big glass of milk.  Once cooled and stored, they are ever so slightly less divine, but still pretty f’ing good.  I always wonder if you could revive one in the microwave to just-out-of-oven goodness, but have never tried it.

Full Disclosure:  this year both my mother and I are experiencing slight failure with these cookies.  They do not seem to be spreading out and “cracking” as much as we’d like.  It’s purely a visual thing, they still taste awesome.  I tried flattening the rolled balls of dough before rolling them in the sugar, but that didn’t seem to help.  Mom tried raising the temp of the oven to 350 but that didn’t seem to do anything either.  I’m now wondering if I have grown lazy in my baking techniques so with my next batch I am going to be more vigilant about using a scoop-and-level method of measuring flour, and really packing that 1/2 cup of brown sugar; I’ve read that a lack of brown sugar and an excess of flour can lead to less chewy cookies.  And maybe I’ll really live dangerously and not dissolve my baking soda in boiling water.

Ooooohhhh…STAND BACK!!!

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