Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ginger Spice Cookies


I think that cookie-eaters fall into two camps: those that prefer their cookies chewy and soft, and those that like a cookie with a little crunch.  Obviously many people enjoy all cookies, and there are certainly as many shades of grey (or golden brown in in cookie-speak) in between a soft and a crunchy cookie as there are different types of people.  But if forced to choose, I think you could definitively say if you are one type or the other.  Think about it now... Do you prefer a soft chocolate chip cookie or a Thin Mint with some bite?  A chewy molasses spice cookie or delicate lemon shortbread?  Arguably tough choices.      


Me?  I fall into the soft and chewy camp, although I certainly never deprive myself of a Thin Mint straight out of the freezer.  If you fall into the latter group, these Ginger Almond Wafers will appeal to you most, though they are sure to please even the most die-hard chewy-cookie fan.  I can attest to that fact myself, and I also have the opinions of several other professional cookie-eaters (you know who you are).



I think this recipe originally caught my eye for several reasons.  First, it uses all forms of ginger, which I love.  When making another recipe earlier this year, I had purchased some crystalized ginger and I was happy to find a cookie recipe where I could use it.  I was also intrigued by the ingredient list since it had no eggs, no milk, and no leavening agents, yet had whipping cream and butter to moisten it.  I knew then that I was in for a crunchy cookie!  Lastly, this recipe appealed to me because it looked easy; for some reason I am willing to put a lot of effort into a cake or a pie or a main dish, but I think cookie-baking should be at least relatively simple.  When I looked at this recipe, I thought, "What?  I can make these cookies just using my food processor?  Sign me up!"      


I only have a Cuisinart Mini Prep food processor* which holds 3 cups total, so I had to halve the recipe to fit the ingredients.  This is the type of recipe where you just throw everything in the processor, pulse for a while, throw in a few more, and voila!  You have moist cookie dough ready for baking!  I literally only used two bowls to make these cookies, and even then the second bowl is just for transferring the dough out of the food processor.  (Feel free to leave the dough in there if you like, although it is probably not a good idea unless you have Band-Aids on hand.)  


The consistency of this dough is a little sticky, yet it could easily be tamed into forming nice little round shapes.  I am not really sure what would happen if you baked the cookies like that, but the recipe calls for using a glass or something else to press the dough into a flat disk before baking.      


For some of my cookies, I pressed a single almond sliver into the top of each one.  I think I prefer them that way (versus a naked top), even though it adds nothing to the taste but just makes them look cuter.  Since these were crunchy cookies which have only a little moisture to begin with, I was actually worried that they would dry out.  To be honest, I can't really tell you if they would.  I took them into work the day after I baked them and less than 8 hours later they were all gone.    


*My boyfriend got me this Cuisinart Mini Prep for Valentine's Day about three years ago (which for the record, is an awesome Valentine's gift), and it has been performing solidly ever since.  If you don't have a food processor now, and either can't invest the money in a full-size model or you don't have the space to store it, I would highly recommend this Mini Prep.  In three years I have only encountered a handful of recipes that I could not make using this processor.  It doesn't have the power of a full-sized processor, but for most uses you don't really need that much.  Not to mention, if you are a scientist working with DNA, you will think it is pretty cool that it is called a Mini Prep.  (sorry, I had to get in the nerdy reference)



Ginger Spice Cookies

3/4 cup powdered sugar, with extra for tops of cookies
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter (1/2 stick), diced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds, with about 20 slivers reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped crystalized ginger

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a food processor (this will all fit in a 3-cup food processor), combine first seven ingredients, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse, dry sand.  Add last three ingredients, and pulse again just until mixture is moist (you don't want to over-process the almonds).  

Transfer the dough to a medium bowl.  Use your hands to roll the dough into balls of approximately 1 1/4 inch, and place them on the baking sheets lined with parchment.  Then take the extra powdered sugar and sprinkle it out on a plate; barely moisten the bottom of a drinking glass, press it in the powdered sugar, scrape off excess (important), and press it down on each cookie until the cookie is about 1/4 inch thick.  Bake the cookies until they are brown on the edges, for me this was about 20 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool, and store at room temperature in an airtight container. 


Depending on size, this recipe should make about 20 cookies.  If you have a large food processor, you can double all the ingredients to make more cookies in one batch.   

3 comments:

  1. Hi Amanda,

    I came across Gay`s blog; I followed your link. People who bakes have my respect for baking is such a commitment. My philosophy is that I`d rather find the best pastry chefs and become their fan. Baked goods require hours of preparation and all I need is a minute to eat them (the most, depending on the quantity).

    One thing that I caught my attention is your research field. I am also doing HIV.

    Hopefully soon I`ll be blogging my food stuff.
    Good day.

    Neil TG

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  2. Hi Neil, Great to hear from a fellow researcher! :)

    I am glad you enjoy my blog, and I have been trying to improve my baking skills recently. It does require a lot preparation, and I think for me the real caveat is that once it is in the oven I CANNOT make changes. This is a big difference from cooking.

    Looking forward to reading your blog someday, send me an email or post a link when you get going!

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