Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Sometimes a theme develops unexpectedly, as it did with these past few posts that all include ginger. Come to think of it, we now have a delightful four course meal in case you’d like to host a sublime Pan- Asian dinner party. To recap:
- Thai pumpkin soup with cashews, coconut, and curry
- Glorious green salad with kale, cauliflower, avocado, and sesame-ginger dressing
- Seared sea bass with miso-soy marinade OR
- Salmon satay with sesame noodles
- Crunchy-chewy ginger snaps
The recipe. This recipe came about last month during one of Boston’s many snow storms, There’s just something about a cold, wet snow storm that creates the desire to bake up something warm and sweet. It seemed like all of my girlfriends were making cookies, often for their snow-shoveling men. (So much for breaking down gender roles.) Anyhow, I had been having a craving for molasses-ginger cookies and jumped on the baking bandwagon. After perusing a few variants online, I decided to go with Martha Stewart’s “Chewy Chocolate Ginger-Molasses Cookies,” as I have found Martha’s baked goods to be sublime and was especially intrigued by the “chocolate” aspect of her recipe.
Ingredient modifications. As much as I adore chocolate, I was afraid it would take over the wonderful ginger-molasses flavors that I craved. Thus, on another occasion I’ll make them as Martha directed but this time decided to omit the chocolate chunks. As it turned out, the chocolate flavor was barely noticeable, but in a good way that probably added to their deliciousness. Meaning, although you couldn’t taste the chocolate per se, it brought balance to the ginger and molasses and made them extra tasty. The other changes I made to the recipe included adding a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper to the batter and substituting white whole wheat flour for regular white flour. I also used Muscovado sugar rather than dark brown (since I had some on hand and it’s a natural fit for these cookies.)
Baking modifications. I only made half a recipe, as there are only two in our household. And of course I made them mini, as I do with all of my cookies and baked goods. The recipe then made four rather than two dozen, incidentally, with each cookie about 1.5 inches in diameter. Note that you will need less baking time for the smaller cookies: watch them carefully lest your cookies become overly crunchy, and by that I mean burnt. These cookies smelled so good when they were in the oven: the scent of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves completely filled the kitchen and wafted throughout the entire house.
I absolutely loved how these turned out and can’t wait to make them again for my mother, who also loves ginger snaps. The fascinating thing about Martha’s version is that not only are the ingredients terrific, the cookies themselves had the elusive combination of being both crunchy and chewy at the same time. On one hand, this is a very flat, thin cookie as Martha depicted (left) and has the look and crunch of a true ginger snap. On the other hand, they also had a touch of chewiness in the center. Not like a true chewy molasses cookie, in my view, which isn’t crunchy at all. Why Martha named them “chewy” I’m not quite sure, as I don’t believe I overcooked mine.
No matter. Whatever you call them, this is a delightful cookie that’s just a wee bit healthier when served in smaller portions and made with whole grain flour.
And they’re the perfect ending to my impromptu Asian-themed dinner party in writing.