December 8, 2011

Ginger Molasses "Why Are These So Damn Good" Cookies

Every once in a while, a small and unassuming cookie makes its way into your life. This cookie made its way into my life when a small Mediterranean bakery, Sofra, opened a few minutes from my house outside Boston a couple of years ago. Sofra serves the most delectable, exotic treats you've ever seen. There are pistachio olive oil cakes, Moroccan donuts, fresh cheese pies with nigella seeds and Egyptian bread pudding. Discovering an innocent ginger molasses cookie among this sea of sweet and savory creations was like deciding to opt for a Hershey's Kiss while at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory - why choose something plain and boring when there is a wonder world of treats to choose from?

But when I bit into this cookie, I realized I'd found something special. I'd discovered the needle in the haystack. First there's the deep, soothing taste of molasses as melts on your tongue. Then, the dazzling, spicy bite of ginger and the sweet coating of sugar. It's impossibly soft and chewy. It's the most buttery cookie you've ever had.

And it's the butter which is the secret ingredient in this recipe: There is none. These cookies use only canola oil, which creates a wonderfully soft, chewy crumb. It takes these from normal ginger molasses cookies to the best damn ginger molasses cookies you've ever had. They're a great holiday cookie, but make a lot, because these guys go fast.

Recipe below.

Ginger Molasses "Why Are These So Damn Good" Cookies
Makes about 30 cookies
Adapted from Sofra Bakery & Cafe and A Plum By Any Other Name

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
-pinch of ground ginger
-3/4 cup canola oil
-1/4 cup molasses
-1 cup sugar, plus approximately 1/4 cup more for coating cookies
-1 large egg
-2 tablespoons finely diced candied ginger

1. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl.

2. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, combine oil, molasses, sugar and eggs and beat for 15-20 seconds until combined (if using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment). Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in the candied ginger using a rubber spatula, making sure the dry and wet ingredients are fully incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour the 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl. Remove the dough from the fridge and form into approximately 1 tablespoon sized balls. Coat the balls lightly in the sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. They will appear undercooked but will harden as they cool. Remove from the oven, allow to cool a few minutes, and transfer to a plate or drying rack. Repeat until all the dough has been used, about 30 cookies. They can be stored in an airtight container for 4-5 days, but let's be honest, they won't last that long.