Friday, October 8, 2010

This is why they teach you time management :)

I am baking cookies on a school night and don't feel a bit guilty about it.... (I may think otherwise come 8am tomorrow morning when I'm taking a test ;) But seriously, for the record, I'm pretty darn good at managing my time and Mr. Cliff T. Ragsdale, author of Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis, has been the gracious recipient of my undivided attention for the last week. It was high time I shared the love with my Kitchen Aid. :)
**update: made an A on the exam....well worth the studying - and cookies :)**

Its been entirely too cold here lately. Recall my last post, just shy of two weeks ago, when it was still 95F.  Within 24 hours of posting that, the average temperature dropped 20 degrees! Now I wear a fleece and run the heat as I make my commute to school in the morning. This chilly, winter-like wind reminds me of how much I love all the seasonal goodies: reading a good book by the fire, darkness at dawn that lingers long after you've gotten up for the day, and above all else, the spicy, warm aroma of gingersnap cookies toasty in the oven. Well, on this particular night it was gingersnap cookies, but pumpkin pie, homemade chai tea, simmering apple cider...anything that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, brown sugar and/or maple syrup belongs in this group of wondrous wintry scents.

Now on to the cookies!

These are extremely easy and very forgiving. Especially when you've left your brain in the books and forget to add the baking soda. So... you decide to go ahead and toss it in to the finished dough. What's a couple of more whirls in the Kitchen Aid? :)

Had I been a good baker and checked to see if I had everything before I started throwing things together, I would have realized I was just a little short on a few of the major ingredients. Whoops...So, I've provided the recipe with all my modifications. The original can be found at Small Home Big Start (link below). None the less, these turned out amazing!

adopted and altered from Small Home Big Start
(makes around 80 small - about 2in. - cookies)

1/2 cup shortening**
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar (I used mostly dark brown, maybe about 2 tbs I had left of light brown)
2 tbs molasses*
1 tbs pure maple syrup
1 tbs honey
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I usually just give the salt grinder a couple of twists.)
1 (rounded) tsp ground ginger
1 (rounded) tsp ground cinnamon (adjust the spices as you'd like. I like things a little stronger)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
~1/4 cup granulated sugar (for coating) (I just pour some sugar in a bowl and call it even) 

*the original recipe called for a 1/4 cup molasses but since I had about 2 tbs left I used other molasses-like gooey sugars -  honey, maple syrup, corn syrup - anything along those lines will do, but keep in mind that molasses does have quite a different flavor than corn syrup.
**original recipe called for 3/4 cup shortening - I only had 1/2 cup left and used butter for the rest. Next time I might try the full shortening version. Butter makes a crispier cookie - think corn flakes - and shortening produces a more cake-like cookie. Cream of tartar makes a chewy cookie. I'll report back on the results. Note, butter also adds a lot of flavor so its not always a great idea to sub shortening...but since the spices in these cookies are so strong I doubt it would make much of a difference.

1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour 1/4 cup+ granulated sugar into a bowl. Set aside. (You'll be tossing the cookies in this later)

2. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and spices. (Flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves). Whisk together. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of your standing mixer, dump in the shortening (+ - butter), brown sugar, molasses (+ - honey and maple syrup), and egg. With paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until fluffy. 

4. With mixer on low speed, add the dry mixture to the shortening mixture and blend until just combined. 

5. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for half an hour. 

6. Using tbs measuring spoon, scoop out about half a tbs worth of dough. (Alternately, you could use a melon scoop as well). This amount of dough will look small but no worries, they will turn out to be perfectly sized gingersnaps.  

7. Toss the dough into a ball and roll the ball around in a bowl of granulated sugar. (or, now that I think about it, you might as well just fill a ziploc with plenty of sugar and throw in all your rolled up cookies and shake to coat. Kind of like a shake and bake. :) Place the coated cookie dough balls two inches apart on a baking sheet. 

7. Toss into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Quickly remove and transfer to cooling rack. (They'll seem a little mushy but they'll continue baking/dry as they cool.) 

8. Repeat with remaining dough and you're done!

Serving ideas:
- dunk in cold milk
- munch on them with a cup of coffee or tea
- crumble them up and use as topping for ice cream or yogurt
- use a cookie to scoop out some cool whip and eat straight from the container  :)
- whiz them into crumbs and use them as a replacement for the graham crackers in the crust to your favorite pumpkin cheesecake recipe.

Nutritional Facts: (1/75 of recipe)
45 Calories, 2.1g fat, 6.3 carbs, .5g protein


Ester said...

Mom seconds as QC. While you think it is out of your six sigma range (not following the recipe) the proportions turned out to be the lucky blend. Don't change a thing. It is perfect! It's a sweet treat and now I'm back to the books myself. Keep flirting with flour... I so enjoy getting a splash of it:)

Mulanxox said...

Love the blog!

Danielle said...

The temperature dropped over where I live too! I was out biking and my ears were freezing! These look very good. Are gingersnaps hard cookies? If they aren't I'd love to try them(:

Flirting with Flour said...

Hi Danielle! Brrrr! Headband? :) I've never run/biked outside when it gets too cold (I'm talking below 50F) but I think I'm going to give it a try and just bundle up! ;D

As for the cookies - they are traditionally crunchy cookies and will always be this way when you buy them in the store. I'm guessing you're not a huge fan of snappy cookies (neither am I) and thats the beauty of making them at home! I know using shortening vs. butter will yeild a chewier cookie and I'm pretty sure adding a little cream of tartar will help make them chewy too. I've made snickerdoodles with cream of tartar and they came out great! I think the next time I try these I'm going to sprinkle some in and see what I can come up with.

Also, keep in mind that you'll want to take them out when they still seem pretty un-done... meaning they're still doughy. Usually recepies call for cooling the cookies on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transfering to a cooling rack. This allows the cookies to firm up/continue baking after they're taken out of the oven. If you prefer chewier cookies I'd gently transfer them to a plate immediately after you take them out of the oven.

I really hope you give these a try! And if they're still too crunchy for your taste - grind them up and use them to make a crust for cheesecake!! :-D!! YUMMMY! Happy baking!