Thursday, September 20, 2012

5-Spice Gingersnaps

The Setting: A day torn between beautiful bright blue skies and the currently prevailing cloud cover. Which one will win out?

The Soundtrack: The Barefoot Contessa. Oia loves Ina.

Steaming up the Oven: Nothing at the moment, but I'm about to drop some pork in the slow cooker!

The Scenario: On a bit of a 5-spice kick...

Lately I've been throwing 5-spice powder in everything from lentils to pastries. I can't get enough of the stuff.

So when I needed to develop a gingersnap recipe for a little project I'm working on, the inclusion of this versatile Chinese spice blend was pretty much a given.

Instead of using dried, powdered ginger to give the cookies their namesake flavor, I prefer a combination of moist, freshly grated ginger root and chewy candied (crystallized) ginger for greater complexity.

These spicy cookies are classically crispy (hence the "snap"), but decresing the cooking time by a couple of minutes will result in a chewier cookie.

Crispy, they make a perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of chai (my breakfast for the past few mornings).

And chewy, they make incredible bookends to vanilla ice cream in a palate-cleansing ice-cream sandwich.

The choice is up to you.

I always hear the best way to peel ginger root is to scrape it with a metal spoon, but I have never had much success with this method. Instead, I simply slice off all the edges with a chef's knife, leaving a perfect, peel-less piece of ginger, ready to be grated. It may seem a little wasteful, but let's be honest, the time and energy you save is worth the little bit of ginger flesh lost.

1 1/4 sticks (10 T) cold, unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 T freshly grated ginger root
4 tsp (1 T + 1 tsp) finely chopped candied ginger
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
granulated sugar for rolling, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the butter with the brown sugar and both gingers until very well combined (2-3 minutes on medium speed).

Scrape down the bowl if needed, add the egg, and beat just until light and fluffy (about 1 minute on medium speed).

Whisk together the dry ingredients, add to the butter mixture (with the mixer turner off), and beat on low speed till fully incorporated.

Use a medium-sized cookie scoop to scoop out 2-T-sized balls of dough and place 2-3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. If desired, roll each ball in granulated sugar before placing on the baking sheet and flatten slightly with your palm to keep it in place.

Bake one sheet at a time at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes for classically crunchy gingersnaps, or for 12-14 minutes for chewier cookies.

Allow cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Dough you do not wish to use immediately may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week

Cookies will keep for up to 5 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 28 cookies.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in Your life.

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