Studded with candied ginger and rolled in chunky sugar these chewy ginger molasses cookies taste like your favorite Christmas memory. Not like that first Christmas after your started college when your mom pointed out you gained the freshman 25. We don’t talk about that Christmas.
It’s me. Back again after an extended blog vacation. I’d like to tell you I’ve been incredibly productive and have spent these last few months fighting to make the world a better place. But honestly I got pregnant and have mostly been sleeping and eating cheese. As I contemplate what bringing a new life into this world in the midst of a pandemic will be like I’ve been thinking a lot about holiday traditions.
I grew up in a pretty “anything goes” American household. With no real ethnic background or connection to any countries of our ancestors my family was free to celebrate the holidays as we pleased with no regard for tradition. Sometimes we went on vacations for the holidays so we could get in the same fights in new locations. Occasionally we’d trek across the state to my paternal grandparents home were I was told at age 13 I’d be allowed to join the adult table for dinner. At age 13 I was not permitted to join the adult table at dinner citing a lack of space and spent the meal sulking at the kids table listening to the latest *NSYNC album on my bright blue CD Walkman pushing the jellied cranberry sauce back and forth across my plate. Sometimes we had parties and decorated cookies with friends from school that resulted in sprinkles being embedded into the carpet for the next decade. Sometimes my mother sought to break some sort of world record for how many Thanksgiving dishes you can add craisins to. Our house was always filled with interesting new baked goods at the holidays and a variety of recipe testing. Some hits and some misses, I’m talking to you pumpkin stuffed shells with salsa. Gross! Sometimes we pretended we were Catholic and went to holiday church services only to lament over how 1 hour could feel like 6 hours. Sometimes we had cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and sometimes we had to watch as my mother encouraged the dogs to unwrap a dozen of their gifts under the tree with more enthusiasm for any other holiday activity than you can imagine. Sometimes my maternal grandmother would bring over one of those jello salads studded with canned fruit and marshmallows and packed in an old cool whip container. These salads could have been prepared fresh or may have been found in the back of her freezer originally made during the First Bush presidency. As children, my sister and I would alternate the yearly honor of being precariously hoisted up by my father to put the angel on the tree. This trust exercise always ended in tears and ultimately my father would put the angel on the tree himself. In my teens I practiced the tradition of disinterest and most holiday meals ended with me declaring I was no longer a member of our family. But ultimately I would shuffle out of my room in my pajamas to quietly join the dinner table. So rarely would my histrionics get in the way of me actually missing a meal.
After moving out of my parents house and going to college I worked in kitchens and in hospitality for over a decade. Often I was working on the holidays people usually spent with their families. The holidays were something for other people, for families in movies who wore matching sweaters and worked jobs where they got vacation time. For families that did the dishes together after meals and played touch football. Not for people like me.
Once I met my husband and his seemingly normal midwestern family I realized that there’s something comforting in creating traditions to share with the people you love each holiday. I’m still capable of a full Christmas meltdown but I’ve mellowed a bit. Now each holiday season my husband and I make a variety of seasonal cookies and sweets together to eat throughout the thanksgiving to Christmas stretch and also share with friends and family. He has some family recipes he’s been making for years and I’ve slowly created some of my own favorites. This year I’ve been working on the ultimate chewy ginger cookie to add to the mix. Crisp edges, chewy center, a Scandinavian inspired spice mixture, rolled in sparkly raw sugar, and with an absolute punch of ginger flavor. These are my new favorite cookie for the holiday season. I can’t wait until the little tadpole that’s been doing gymnastics inside my uterus for the last 14 weeks is old enough to enjoy these holiday traditions with us.
I hope you enjoy these cookies. Whether you’re banished to the kids table or home alone in sweatpants, they’re sure to add to the memories of your holiday season. Also, call your mother. She tried her best and she’s been able to block out all of your childhood holiday trauma. Just don’t call me if you add craisins to the cookies. I don’t want to know.
Yield: 15-18 cookies
- 6 oz melted and unsalted butter
- 1/2 C dark brown sugar
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 C unsulphured molasses
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
- 1/4 C finely chopped candied ginger
- 1/2 C coarse sugar (like sugar in the raw) for coating
- In the bowl of a stand mixer place melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix with a paddle on medium speed until fully combined.
- Add the egg and molasses and mix on medium speed until fully mixed. Scrape down the sides.
- In a separate bowl whisk together flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt, and all the spices.
- Add the contents of your dry bowl to the mixer with the egg and sugar mixture and mix on low until fully combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add candied ginger and mix on low until fully combined.
- Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour or until fully cooled.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the coarse sugar in a bowl.
- Scoop cookies with 1 1/2 oz scoop, roll into a ball, and roll in sugar.
- Place cookie balls onto your baking trays approximately 2” apart and slightly press the cookies down. Do not completely flatten.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate and bake for an additional 8 minutes. The cookies should spread but still look a little soft in the middle. They will set up as they cool,
- Cool completely on a vented cookie rack.
- Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. Cookies will stay soft for up to 2 weeks.
- Enjoy! These cookies are great on their own but make fabulous ice cream sandwiches as well!