It is a shame I am only now sharing what was undoubtedly THE most delicious cookies I baked for Christmas. While I was able to whip up multiple batches of delicious rose and almond nankhatais, vanilla log cookies and chocolate dipped biscotti, these spiced cookies sort of just happened on the spur of the moment.
I did a lot of baking and cooking during little Boy’s winter break. But I also took a step back from blogging and decided to spend quality time with him. Because isn’t that what Christmas really is about? Being with family and creating memories? It can be a tough balancing act, with the many different distractions around us. If social media is to be believed, everyone had hosted the perfect Christmas and New Year parties with perfectly behaved children in color coordinated outfits. There’s nothing wrong about it, but I feel that trying to keep up with the Joneses and Smiths of the world, sort of robs you from being “present in the moment”.
We threw a small Christmas party and I realized only the next day, that I had forgotten to take even a single picture! But it’s okay. Boy drew me pictures of the fun he had with friends at the party. Yeah, we can be old-school that way. It doesn’t matter, does it?
So, the surprise hit around Christmas were these chewy spiced molasses cookies. These can be called gingerbread cookies… somewhat. These are not the cut-out kind, but drop and bake cookies which are very soft and chewy when baked. They are sweetly spicy with all the different flavors in them. Boy had been pestering me to buy gingerbread cookies. And I kept telling him that he probably wouldn’t like those spicy ginger cookies. But he would have none of it. So I decided to try to tweak a recipe to suit our tastes.
I found a great basic recipe on Epicurious and adjusted the spices to suit my taste. There’s ground ginger (of course), cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and even freshly grated nutmeg in them. Simply marvelous! I mixed in all the spices along with flour and leavening, took a whiff, even had a little taste and adjusted by adding a pinch more of some of the spices till I was satisfied. The star of the wet ingredients is the dark molasses and brown sugar. The molasses adds such a wonderful depth of flavor and makes the house smell unbelievably amazing! The cookies are rolled in some plain sanding sugar. This gives the signature snap and crunch to the outside of these cookies, while the insides are still nice and chewy.
If you know me, you know that I have a habit of trying to improve upon something that is already good! Sometimes it turns out good and sometimes it can go downhill. I was still not convinced Boy would go for these ginger cookies, so I decided they needed something a little bit sweet to dress them up. Just my luck, I had a jar of brown sugar caramel sauce and a bowl of white chocolate ganache in my freezer (leftover from making truffles for Father’s Day!).
As you can see, I went to town drizzling these wonderfully sweet concoctions over the baked cookies. Trust me, it was the best improvisation ever! The cookies were unbelievably delicious. Chewy, spicy, sweet, even slightly mysterious; making one think, “Whatever is in these cookies?!!”
They are good enough on their own, no doubt about that. Add a tall glass of milk to wash them down and you can easily lose count of how many cookies you have eaten.
But the chocolate and caramel on top takes them over the top. I wouldn’t try these cookies with a heavy frosting like buttercream or even sugar icing. A little bit of chocolate and caramel is just perfect though. The cookies will need to be refrigerated when frosted. You can do what I did and keep the cookies, chocolate and caramel separate. I took out as many cookies as we needed, softened the ganache and caramel sauce in the microwave and drizzled them over the cookies. A few minutes in the refrigerator and they were set perfectly.
The cookie recipe has been adapted from Epicurious.
- All purpose flour - 2 cups
- Baking soda - 2 tsp
- Ground cinnamon - 1½ tsp
- Ground ginger - 1 tsp
- Ground cardamom - ½ tsp
- Ground cloves - ¼ tsp
- Ground or grated nutmeg - a fat pinch
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Egg - 1, large
- Unsalted butter - ½ cup, melted
- Sugar - ⅓ cup
- Dark brown sugar - ¼ cup
- Molasses - ⅓ cup
- Coarse sanding sugar- ½ cup, for rolling
- White chocolate ganache - 1½ cups, for drizzling (see recipe in notes)
- Caramel sauce - 1 cup, for drizzling (see recipe in notes)
- Pre-heat oven to 375 deg.F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and molasses till well combined. Mix in the dry ingredients just to combine. The dough will be very sticky. Refrigerate it for at least half an hour so that it is easier to handle.
- When ready to bake, take the dough from the refrigerate. Take coarse sanding sugar in a shallow bowl.
- Scoop out heaped tablespoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls. Roll the dough balls in sanding sugar and place on the baking sheet, 2" apart (cookies will spread when baking).
- Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Cookies will have cracked tops and will be just set around edges. Carefully remove cookies with a spatula, transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
- Drizzle chocolate ganache and caramel sauce over the cookies. Find recipes for ganache and caramel sauce in the notes.
- Return frosted cookies to the baking sheets, refrigerate for half an hour to firm up the frosting. Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Un-frosted cookies can be stored at room temperature.
You need: 1 cup or 6 oz white chocolate chips, 6 tbsp heavy cream and 1 tbsp unsalted butter.
Method: Take the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl and set aside. Heat the heavy cream and butter in a saucepan on low-medium heat till butter is melted. The cream must be hot, but take care not to boil it. Pour the hot cream and butter mixture over the chocolate. It will start to melt, give it a stir to melt the chocolate completely. You will get a smooth, silky ganache. Cool this slightly before using. Completely cooled ganache can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator and lightly warmed up to make liquid again.
2. BROWN SUGAR CARAMEL SAUCE.
You need: ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup heavy cream, 2 tbsp unsalted butter, a pinch of salt.
Method: Take all ingredients in a small saucepan and start heating on medium heat. Once butter is melted and everything is well combined, heat for another 6-8 minutes on medium-low heat till sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and pour into a glass jar. Cool completely, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. The sauce will thicken as it cools, you can reheat it to make it liquid again.
Go here for detailed instructions and photos of the chocolate ganache.
Go here for detailed instructions and photos of the caramel sauce.
These cookies were the biggest hit at Christmas. Boy couldn’t keep his hands off them (and neither could we, for that matter). These cookies are simply gorgeous in every way. You know, you needn’t wait for a special occasion to make them. Try them, pronto!!
Have you tried molasses cookies or spiced cookies? Do you dress them up in any way or like them plain? Do share.
Do give these delicious and beautiful cookies a try soon.
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