Saturday, November 14, 2009

Purely Delicious

Last week I needed some gingersnaps to make gingersnap crumble for my Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe. One of the Tuesdays With Dorie recipes this month would have fit the bill just fine, and I would have, for pretty much the first time, baked ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, I am not always so practical when it comes to baking. I’d had my eye on the gingersnap recipe from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich for a while and decided this was a good excuse to try them. I figured that a cookbook that focuses on “ingredient-driven” recipes would probably have a superb ginger cookie recipe and it did not disappoint at all. The cookies contain three kinds of ginger, and manage to be wonderfully flavorful without being aggressively spicy. Baked on the lower end of the baking time (10 minutes), they turn out perfectly thin yet slightly chewy. I thought I was going to have to freeze some, but we could absolutely not stop eating them. Initially we rated them a 9 for Deliciousness, but in the ginger cookie category I think they deserve a 10. These cookies are also easy to make, so they get a 2 for Effort, giving them an EDR of either 4.5 or 5 – excellent score either way.

My Gingersnaps, from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
Printable Recipe

2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and just warm
¼ cup unsulphured or full-flavored molasses
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup (2.3 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar or light moscovado sugar
2 tablespoons finely minced or grated fresh ginger root
1 large egg
¾ cup (4 ounces) ginger chips or crystallized ginger, cut into 1/4-inch dice
About ½ cup Demura or turbinado or ¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Set aside.

Combine the warm butter, molasses, both sugars, fresh ginger, and egg in a large bowl (or in a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment) and mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and ginger chips and stir until incorporated. The dough will be soft. I gave it a brief (hour or so) chill.

Form the dough into 1-inch balls (1/2 ounce of dough for each). Roll balls in the sugar and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets from back to front and top to bottom about halfway through the baking, for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until they puff up and crack on the surface and then begin to deflate in the oven. (I know it may be more time-consuming, but I always bake cookies one sheet at a time on the center rack, I find they are more consistent that way, but it could just be my oven.) For chewier cookies, remove them from the oven when at least half or more of the cookies have begun to deflate; for crunchier edges with chewy centers, bake a minute or so longer.

Slide the parchment sheets of cookies onto cooling racks or use and offset spatula to transfer the cookies, and cool completely. Stored in airtight container, gingersnaps keep for several days.

And since I’m on the subject of Pure Dessert, I made these Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies from that book back at the beginning of October(!) to go with the TWD Split Level Pudding and never got around to posting them. You know how when someone pronounces something you made “interesting” and you’re not sure how to take it? I would not be offended at all if I heard that about these. They had a lot going on for a small cookie: a nutty flavor and sandy texture from the buckwheat, with a bittersweet essence and crunch from the cacao nibs. I had to keep trying them to decide if I liked them, and ultimately I did. I don’t know if I’d make them again, but both buckwheat and cacao nibs are fairly new ingredients to me and I enjoyed working with them; I look forward to utilizing them in other recipes.

Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
Printable recipe

1 ¼ cups (5.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (3 ounces) buckwheat flour
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cacao nibs
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whisk the all-purpose and buckwheat flours together in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, and salt together for about a minute with either a spoon or electric mixer. Mix in the nibs and vanilla. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated (I felt a spoon worked well for this part). Scrape the dough into a mass, if necessary knead it with your hands a few times until smooth. Place the dough on a flat surface and shape into a 12 by 2-inch long. Wrap the log and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Cut the cold dough log into ¼-inch thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 ½ inches from each other on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are just beginning to color at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Cool the cookies in the pans on a rack, or slide the liners off to free up the pans; let cookies cool completely.


Megan said...

I just found a bag of crystallized ginger in my baking basket - so I am going to try those cookies today! I love ginger cookies and while I usually make Ina's recipe, these are a bit different and I'm anxious to see how they compare.

And the buckwheat cookies deserve a try too - my husband loves buckwheat so he would really get a kick out of them!

Anonymous said...

The TWD cookies are the first ginger cookie I ever made. Now I'm curious to try others, and this recipe sounds wonderful. I've never heard of a buckwheat cookie, but it does sound interesting! :) You were daring to give them a try.

Hindy said...

Both these cookie recipes sound great. I love buckwheat and will definitely try this recipe. Lovely!

Unknown said...

I've got to get my hands on a copy of that book - both of these recipes look terrific!! I am definitely going to try the gingersnaps in the next few weeks. I just received some crystallized ginger as a gift & now I have the perfect recipe to use it :)

Sarah said...

Your gingersnaps look amazing! And an EDR of 10! I am definitely going to be making these ASAP! I love Alice Medrich, she has yet to disappoint me. I made the Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies a few months ago, and they are definitely one of my favorite cookies ever. They look completely different from yours, crazy how the same recipe can come out so many ways...

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I've really enjoyed Pure Dessert - I've made several recipes and love Medrich's approach. I've bookmarked so many ginger cookie recipes, but this one might be the first I try. And the buckwheat cookies do look interesting. I have the ingredients and may give them a whirl. I made a cocoa nib gelato (blogged it) from Bon Appetit recently and it was truly outstanding.