Friday, December 29, 2017

My new favorite cookie--Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

When it comes to baking cookies, I usually go for simple rather than complicated.  Bar or drop cookies rather than rolled or shaped, and if the dough uses melted butter, all the easier.  You can see some of my favorites here:  toffee bars, ginger snaps with white chocolate, chocolate chip oatmeal coconut, and meringue with nuts and chocolate chips.  But I was recently tempted by a recipe for chocolate gingerbread cookies--a little more trouble, but definitely worth it! A sophisticated taste, but I'm guessing kids would like them also.

adapted from
yield: 3 dozen cookies

Note:  The dough for these cookies needs to be refrigerated overnight (or for at least several hours).

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-1/2 t. ground ginger
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 cup dark, full, or robust molasses (NOT "blackstrap")
1 T. fresh grated ginger
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T. Dutch-processed cocoa
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 1/4 c. white granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Cream the butter, then add in brown sugar, spices, salt, and baking soda. Cream all together until they form a uniform colored paste.

Add the molasses and fresh grated ginger and beat to incorporate.  Add the flour and cocoa, beating until there are no streaks of flour.  Stir in the chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed through the dough. The dough will be soft and sticky.

Scrape the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle, about 1-inch thick, then tightly wrap with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least several hours).

Preheat the oven to 325.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Put the granulated sugar into a small bowl (for rolling balls of dough). Cut the flattened slab of dough into 1-inch cubes. Roll each cube into a ball between your palms, then roll the ball in the sugar to coat.  Transfer to the baking sheets, placing no more than 20 cookies on a large sheet, as the cookies will spread. I bake one sheet at a time. While one sheet is baking, I form the other cookies, putting them on a parchment-lined plate in the refrigerator to keep chilled while the first batch is baking.

Bake the cookies for about 14 minutes, or until the top of the cookies have started to crack slightly.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A new kitchen gadget

Yesterday I tried out the new digital probe thermometer ordered after a close-call cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.  Our digital instant-read meat thermometer was somehow set on Centigrade rather than Fahrenheit, so we left the turkey in the oven longer than it should have been, waiting for the thermometer to get up to the right temperature.  Luckily, we pulled it out well before that, and it happened that the meat was perfectly cooked.  The mishap motivated me to look for another thermometer, not because of C/F readings, but because the one I have takes quite a while to get up to temperature after you stick it in the fish/meat, and I wanted something quicker.  I found a type I didn't know existed, where the temperature probe is connected to the home unit by a long, thin wire, so you put the probe in the food at the outset, set the unit for the temperature you want the food to reach, and then wait for the unit to beep.  I used it last night on a piece of salmon I was pan-frying, and it worked very well. I set it for 125F, let the fish cook, and then turned off the burner when the unit beeped. When I stuck a knife in to look, the flesh was still rare in the interior, but by the time I got the salmon to the table, it was done to perfection. You can also put the probe in a piece of meat or poultry that's going into the oven, as the wire is long and thin enough that you can close the oven door on it, with the home device sitting on a nearby counter. The device has 2 probes, so if you're doing a turkey and want to track light meat with one and dark meat with the other, you can. It was less than $20, and I'm happy with it!