Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Chocolate gingerbread cookies. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Baking is one of my favorite things about Christmas, partly because I love love love cookies and sharing them, but mostly because it's a tradition in my family, as true as putting up a tree and wrapping presents. My earliest kitchen memories are of rolling out cookie dough and selecting just the right cookie cutter, pressing out the shape and gently placing it on the cookie sheets that my Mom rotated in and out of the oven. I still bake her Christmas cut-outs every year, a tradition that has moved from her kitchen to mine. (She still bakes the fruitcake cookies, though.)

This is a new favorite, chocolate gingerbread cookies, adapted from Food and Wine magazine. Gingerbread's kick combined with rich chocolate is an inspired creation, and one that will be on my cookie-baking list year after year.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons, unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening, such as Crisco
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
½ cup molasses
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled


1/2 pound confectioner’s sugar
A few tablespoons milk

1.       In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2.       In another bowl, beat the softened butter and shortening until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

3.       Add the egg to the batter and beat until incorporated. Add the molasses and the melted chocolate (I use the microwave to melt the chocolate, in 15 second intervals until it’s fully melted). Gradually add the flour, beating in each addition. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, shaping each into a disk, then wrap individually and chill for at least two hours.

4.       When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350. Lightly flour the countertop and roll the first disk about ¼ inch thick. Get out your favorite cookie cutters and cut the dough into shapes. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Re-roll the dough scraps to make more cookies (I try to keep re-rolled dough scraps together; they’re just a little bit softer than first generation dough.)

5.       Bake the cookies in a 350 oven for about seven minutes, until tops are dry. Remove from oven, let cool on pans for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks for cooling completion and icing application.

6.       For the icing: the original recipe used a royal icing with egg whites, but I went with my go-to cookie icing ~ just sifted confectioner’s sugar mixed with enough milk to get a smooth, pourable consistency. I start with a half pound bag of 10-X sugar and a couple tablespoons of milk and adjust from there.  

7.       Let cookies dry and they can be stored at room temperature in sealed containers.

 Recipe adapted from Food and Wine magazine.

Chocolate gingerbread cookies. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

What are your favorite cookie discoveries of late? Please share in the comments. Happy Baking!

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