Friday, March 13, 2015

Bribe cookies (Martha Stewart's Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies)

When I first moved to Utah, I made these cookies to bribe an acquaintance to keep teaching me guitar... except I ate all of them first, and then he started dating someone and decided he didn't want to hang out with me any more. True story.

When I first started my avalanche studies class, I made these cookies to bribe a classmate into driving me up to the mountains for class Fridays... except I dropped the container I was carrying them in, shattering glass and cookie crumbs all over the floor of the geology building. Glass cookies = bad bribe.

The lesson here is pretty clear: do not make cookies in an attempt to coerce people into being your friends. Make cookies for people who already like you, and who will still like you if you accidentally-on-purpose eat all of their cookies.

These cookies are from the Martha Stewart Cookie Book, which my mother bought me when I went to college. The page with the recipe has clearly been abused over the years- it's got coffee rings, tears and spills and it's definitely no longer attached to the binding. It's convenient actually, because I can just tuck the recipe inside the front cover. No more index searching when I want weird and wonderful cookies! First-world problem solved.

So the cookies. First you cream butter and ginger, then you mix in brown sugar and molasses. At this point, you will be convinced that nothing so liquid will ever be cookie dough. Then you mix in the flour and spices, at which point you will be convinced that there's no way all of it will possibly mix in without your arm falling off.

At some point in the process, it will occur to you that your cookie dough kind of looks like poop... you're gonna want to move past that one. Keep stirring instead.

In the instructions, Ms. Stewart (you think I'm going to call her Martha? She'd slap me!) has you form cookie-dough balls, then put the tray back into the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking. Because I am the kind of person who shouldn't be allowed to bake, I skipped this step a bunch of times when making these cookies in college. Bad idea. They came out all crinkly and incorrect, instead of perfect. Idiot that I am, it took me a couple years to figure out my mistake... I just thought the cookies were rebelling. Don't be me. Learn faster. Follow the instructions.

That, by the way, is why I usually hate baking: too many instructions.

I, meanwhile, will continue to learn glacially, irregularly. These cookies were 100% baked as a bribe. Wish me luck- I'll need it.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart's Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (I grated mine fresh, but I don't think it's necessary)
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water 
7 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips*

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and fresh ginger until lightened- about four minutes with an electric mixer, or forever and a half by hand. Mix in brown sugar, then molasses. At this point, the "dough" should be well combined and pretty wet.

In a ramekin or small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in boiling water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet half at a time: the order goes half of the flour, mixture, then the baking soda mixture, then other half of the flour. Mix in the chocolate chips (at this point I switched to a spatula) then turn the dough onto plastic wrap. Pat into ~1 inch thickness and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls in your palms, then roll each ball in granulated sugar. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through. 

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