Iced Ginger Cookies
Now that Thanksgiving is under our belts (which are suddenly a couple notches looser), cookie baking season is officially here. Everyone has their go-tos and must-haves this time of year — peanut butter blossoms, chocolate crinkles, almond spritz cookies. But with their marvelous texture and cozy baking spices, these iced ginger cookies are definitely worth bringing home for the holidays (or, you know, dropping off on mom and dad’s doorstep).
They’re full of wintry spice: We used a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and of course, ginger to give them an earthy sweetness and a warm, kicky bite. In the oven, those aromas waft and swirl all through the house. They’re utterly irresistible — the sort of baking smells that are so very evocative of the comforts of home.
That said, what really takes these cookies over the top is the texture. In addition to using both butter and shortening, the bakers in our test kitchen experimented with different amounts of thick, rich molasses to get just the right amount of chew (and used up an entire jar of the stuff in the process, which pretty much never happens). The dough puffs up while baking and then settles as it cools, leaving you with a batch of perfectly cracked cookies that are crispy and caramelized on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. In other words: everything you want from a cookie.
For the frosting, we went with a simple milk and powdered sugar formula, and then added a few tablespoons of butter to give it a bit more body and fluff than a typical cookie icing. Feel free to skip the frosting though: it adds a nice, vanilla-y touch, but the cookies are certainly scrumptious enough to stand on their own. Two bites of one of them (frosted or not), and you’ll already be reaching for another …and another. ‘Tis the season of shoveling cookies into your mouth!
We’re planning on using these spicy-sweet ginger cookies for the neighborhood’s socially distant cookie swap (it’s not a competition, but they’ll be the unexpected favorite). They also make a great afternoon pick-me-up: we love dunking them into a hot cup of coffee or steamy Assam tea — both play off the warm baking spices in such a satisfying way — for a WFH fika of sorts. And once the holiday lights and snowman inflatables are packed away for the year, we’ll be tucking them into a summer picnic basket along with some foot-long sandwiches and a big Mason jar of lemonade.
Our tip: If you don’t want to bake the cookies all at once, you can roll the dough into balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then store them in the freezer in a ziplock bag. Bake as directed whenever the mood strikes.
For the cookies:
2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp cinnamon
1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 large Gelson’s egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
⅓ cup molasses
For the frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, sugar, salt, and baking soda on medium speed until combined.
Reduce the speed to low. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add the molasses, and mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture in two additions, and mix until just combined.
Roll the dough into balls about the size of golf balls, and place them on the baking sheet 4 to 5” apart.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are set.
Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting: Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until light in color, about 30 seconds.
Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top of each cookie. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days.
Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Baking Company