Ginger Molasses Cookie Salon
Date: June 8, 2011
Attendees: Beth S., Brooke M., Topher S., Scott B., Sarah V.B., Joanna M.
Top row – from left:
• Good to the Grain (medium soft) – Joanna
• Canadian Living Magazine (soft) – Brooke
• Grandma’s friend’s recipe (soft, light in molasses)- Sarah
Bottom row – from left:
• Cook’s Illustrated (soft and thick) – Beth
• Cook’s Illustrated (w/sea salt and black pepper) – Scott and Topher
(actual recipe not available without membership to C.I. – but I found it here.)
• 1001 Cookie Recipes – Sarah
Note: Cookie Salon #3 did happen. And it was a good one: Chocolate Chip. To be specific, The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, as presented by David Leite in The New York Times. I truly adore this recipe, which is actually more of a method than it is a recipe. Read that article for more details. It really does deserve its own post, but I was too overwhelmed by its many nuances and variables to create a valuable report. Perhaps this will be a work in progress. I must, however, give a nod to Scott’s glorious pistachio-studded and cardamom-laced behemoths. Holy smokes – even my (temporary) molar-challenged nut eschwewing self was compelled to plow through one of those bad boys. Totally worth the mastication challenge.
1. Cook’s Illustrated (made, coincidentally, by both Beth and Scott/Topher.) The molasses had a stronger than typical presence as you can see from the color of the cookie. Beth made her’s straight-up, while Scott and Topher added black pepper and a chunky sea salt on top. Both were immensely satisfying and flavorful and I’m not sure I would place one over the other. If I were in the mood for an assertive and bold cookie, I would do the salt and pepper thing. (although – no offense to S+T – I might use a more flaky and delicate salt than the chunky one that they chose). I really loved this cookie – both versions.
Other comments by the group: “A little less sweet – almost savory.” “Would maybe be good with cheese.” (Scott and Topher’s salty peppery one.)
2. I also really liked the texture of the one that Sarah mad from 1001 Cookie Recipes – it was almost candy-like (although very light on the ginger flavor.) but because I don’t love the idea of eating Crisco or margarine, I’m wondering if the texture would be compromised by substituting butter. (I don’t seem to have any notes on Sarah’s other cookie – her grandma’s friend’s recipe.)
3. Brooke told us that her cookie was remarkably quick and easy to make – like 30 minutes from when she started mixing it to when the cookies were out of the oven. A ginger molasses for the gal/guy on the move, I suppose. Because this one used oil instead of butter, there was no creaming involved, a major contributor to the recipe’s speed and ease.
The group (including Brooke) noticed the strong (and somewhat unpleasing) flavor of the canola oil, so we wondered if it the particular oil she used might not have been past its prime – or if it was just a matter of using a more neutral-flavored oil. Or, better yet, melted butter. Because come on, when does butter not taste better than oil? I think this recipe has promise – just needs a lil’ fine-tunin’.
4. The cookies I made from Good to the Grain were the thinnest of the group. The recipe said to bake for 10 minutes for a crisp, snap-like cookie, less time for a softer and more pliable one. I did three separate batches, leaving the first batch in the oven for 10 minutes, the second for 7 minutes and the third for 5 minutes. The clear winner was the in-between, medium-cooked batch: bendy but neither crisp like the 10 minute batch, nor gooey like the 5 minute batch. This was the only recipe in the group that used fresh grated ginger (in addition to powdered) – and also melted butter instead of merely softened. The melted butter, I gather, is key in achieving a thinner snap as opposed to something soft, thick and chewy.
Additional notes/thoughts: someone in the group (I can’t remember who) made a clever suggestion to mix orange or lemon zest in the sugar before rolling the dough balls in it (most ginger molasses cookie include this step; it is what creates the crackly ridges on the surface.). I love this idea and plan to give it a whirl the next time around.
Okay, long winded – this one. I just wanted to fully represent the results of our collective efforts.
In other news…
On the regular, every day, walkin’ around cookie front, I haven’t issued a single cookie report in weeks. This has not been not out of laziness, I promise. I simply have not been sufficiently inspired by a cookie lately. It’s a sad thing. But please know I’m out here in the field, scouting daily – working my hardest to find a worthy gem to tell you about. Stay tuned…