Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Candied Ginger Cinnamon Cookies

The countdown to Christmas continues... with less than a week away now, I'm finding it very difficult to be motivated at work, what with a nine day vacation looming. I'm happy to hear that you all are enjoying the cookie posts. If anyone tries one of the recipes, let me know... I'd love to hear how it turned out!

That said, today's cookie recipe comes from Kirstin of Kalanag. I stumbled upon Kristin's blog one day via Carrie and instantly fell in love with her posts. Kristin shares snippets of life, handmade gift inspiration and thoughts on motherhood (read one of my favorite posts here), making her blog a favorite read of mine. She also shares a lot of tasty recipes on her blog (I mean, would you look at this pie?!) so I was excited when she sent over this sweet and spicy cookie recipe to share with us. Enjoy!

When Katherine asked me to share a favorite cookie recipe for the holidays I was flattered! Then I panicked a little bit because I realized that our family has never really had a "Christmas cookie". When I really thought about it, all I could remember my Mom making around the holidays when I was growing up were these infamous "cheesecake bars" which were neither cheesecake nor bars, but a mix of jiffy cake mix and who knows what else, and sometimes (not every time) had some sort of cookie like crust. They were delicious, I will have to give her that, but not exactly my idea of a holiday cookie! Then I remembered that when I was about five, I made these fragrant cinnamon Christmas tree ornaments. I think one was a little reindeer and the other was a gingerbread house. Every year my Mom would bring the box of Christmas ornaments up from storage and you could smell the ornaments before she even opened the box. Putting those spicy sweet smelling ornaments on the tree every year always made me hungry, and I'm sure if I didn't put the craft glue in to the mix myself, I would probably try to eat them. 

Reminiscing sniffing the christmas tree as a child brought me to the idea for these cookies, not exactly ginger bread cookies, but the edible version of what I remember of those cookie ornaments, minus the glue and with a little more pizazz. I had a hard time not eating the batter, and sort of reverted into my tiny baby Kirstin self while making these cookies, which delighted my own tiny baby two year old Julian. I hope when someone asks him when he grows up what sort of cookie reminds him of Christmas he will remember his mother bouncing around the kitchen covered in spices and butter. These cookies turn out nice and soft, a tiny bit of crisp to the outer edge and the spicy kicks of candied ginger really kick you in the mouth in a great way.

The highlight is definitely the "Cake Spice" spice mix I got from an amazing spice shop here in Chicago, it seriously made all the difference. The turbanado sugar adds a little sparkle too, perfect for holiday festivities. They go fast, so save some for yourself. Now, I must preface the recipe, I don't call for so many different things for the sake of being finicky, I have a serious pantry of flours, sugars, spices, dried fruits and nuts and I love sharing the combinations with my own readers, so I want to share them with you too! So here you have it, I hope you enjoy it! (GH note: see Kirstin's explination of special ingredients listed at the bottom of the post.)

Candied Ginger Cinnamon Cookies
  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, skin peeled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Cake Spice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1 pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 c cane sugar 
  • 3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 unsulphured molasses
  • 1/2 c candied ginger* chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1 egg 

Sugary topping:
  • 2 tablespoons turbanado sugar (or any large grain sugar)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt flakes 
  • The remaining sugar from the candied ginger*
  • Parchment paper 

Preheat oven to 350. Sift and mix together the flours, spices, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugars and butter, then use a fine grater ( I use a micro plane) to grate the fresh ginger into the mixture, add the molasses and the egg. Fold in the candied ginger pieces, and then add the dry ingredients. Stick the dough into the refrigerator for about thirty minutes (or enough time to clean up your mess) so that it hardens up a bit, and is easier to roll. 

Roll the dough into as big or small cookies as you'd like, I like mine small, so I made them about an inch in diameter. Dip, roll or top the dough ball into the salt/sugar mixture and place them on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for about ten minutes. The bigger you make the cookies the longer you should leave them in the oven, but if you want them to be soft take them out a little before they look "done" and leave them on the baking sheet for a few more minutes. I got about three and a half dozen cookies out of this batch, more than enough to share!

Special Ingredients:
Whole wheat pastry flour: I get mine at trader joe's, great way to add whole wheat into something like cookies and cakes that call for refined flours.
Cake spice: I got mine at a local spice shop, you can oder it online or substitute something like pumpkin pie spice, or your favorite combo of fragrant spices. Or, consider scoping out a specialty spice shop in your area, and ask them for their suggestions. 
Candied ginger: whole foods bulk section, but be careful because it is addicting! 
Sugar from the candied ginger: when you chop up all that candied ginger, some of the big sugar granules will fall off, scoop them up and use them to sprinkle on your cookies, they are full of gingery flavor!

Thanks so much, Kirstin, for sharing this recipe with us!
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.


Kate said...

Wow this looks amazing! I have been craving "spicy" cookies like ginger... And I may have to check out that spice shop too!

Abbyblujay said...

These cookies are beautiful! but I got stuck on THE SPICE HOUSE. I've been trying to get over there for FOREVER!!! oh man... this makes me all of the excited.

Carrie said...

Kirstin, these look and sound so delicious!