Friday, December 1, 2017

Soft & Chewy Mini Molasses Ginger Cookies

Making minis in cookies especially during the holidays is definitely the way to go!

There are so many great Christmas cookie recipes out there that some people wait all year to try, so making them 2 or 3-bite sized means that we can try them all. That is sharing while caring. It's considerate and that's the spirit!

I make these ginger cookies way more than once a year - they're on the regular. Even those who don't like ginger seem to seriously love these cookies. I don't know what it is, but it's like magic.

There are so many ways to make ginger cookies. Some have lots of molasses and some have little. Some melt the butter with syrup while others cream butter with sugar. Some use light molasses and others use the dark stuff - it's important you know the difference!

Molasses is a thick liquid sugar syrup produced during the refining process of sugarcane or sugarbeet juice to make crystal sugar. This sugarcane juice is boiled and centrifuged to concentrate it so that sugar crystals can be extracted and the dark syrup that remains is molasses. Molasses can be produced in several different forms depending on how much sugar is extracted. Here are three main types that are found in supermarkets:

Fancy molasses - this is a light molasses (also called "mild") produced from the first boiling of sugarcane and most of the sugar is still retained so that it tastes the sweetest of all the molasses varieties. It is the most runny of the three.

Cooking molasses - this is a darker molasses (also called "robust", "dark" or "full flavour") made from the second boiling and sugar extraction so it has a more viscous consistency and a slight bitter taste. I prefer to bake with this when making molasses cookies and gingerbread. Sometimes manufacturers make this type of molasses by blending Fancy and Blackstrap molasses to achieve a similar product.

Blackstrap molasses - this is the most viscous and darkest of all molasses types. It is produced after the third boiling and much of the sugar (sucrose) has been extracted. Blackstrap molasses has the most robust and bitter flavour. It is a good source of Vitamin B and minerals such as Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.

This recipe for the golden, tan-coloured crinkly cookies uses just 2 tablespoons (that's 40g) of the light, fancy molasses to lend a pleasant mild sweet molasses flavour as well as plenty of soft chewiness. The ginger really stands out in this recipe.

If you were to use blackstrap molasses, you would get a more pronounced bitterness (but still a sweet cookie) and it pairs well with other sweet spices like clove and cinnamon.

The best feature of these wonderful cookies? They freeze beautifully and stay perfectly soft for days in an airtight container so you can double the batch and be ready for friends and family!

Let the holiday baking begin! xo

Soft & Chewy Mini Molasses Ginger Cookies
makes 30 mini cookies

½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, plus about ½ cup extra for rolling
2 tbsp (40g) fancy (light) molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ salt
¾ tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cups (235g) all-purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the flat beater/paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until somewhat light and fluffy but still grainy, 1½ to 2 minutes.

Beat in molasses until well incorporated, about 10 seconds. Add egg and beat until smooth and mixture no longer looks curdled, about 25 seconds. Beat in vanilla until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula several times during mixing. Mix in ginger, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Finally, stir in flour until evenly combined.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the dough to cover it and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Chilling will allow the dry ingredients to hydrate thoroughly so that the cookies colour evenly and develop a rich brown tone.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll scant tablespoons of dough into balls and then roll them around in sugar to coat. Transfer dough balls to baking sheets, spacing them 2-3 inches apart and bake until cracked on the surface and lightly browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Let cool for 30 seconds on baking sheet before transferring individually to a wire rack to cool completely.
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