Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ginger (and) Mint

I think I'm pretty good at pegging what people like when it comes to the whole dessert / snack thing. Certainly I've become better at it over the years - I generally know how far "outside the box" I can go with my offerings before I start meeting resistance or (perish the thought!) outright rejection. It's all about picking up on the subtle cues people leave in conversation - even if you aren't talking to them about food (what, there's another topic of conversation out there?), people do drop hints as to their personality and generally their likes and dislikes.

A classic example I've come to realize over the years is that, for the most part, adults are perfectly content with desserts and snacks that are more spicy than sweet. They are the dark chocolate people, the ones who eat the actual gingerbread of the gingerbread houses (rather than people like me and most kids who would rather pick off the candy and royal icing), and those who lean towards fruit and nut types of concoctions rather than a sticky-sweet nougat or caramel.

My old elementary school teacher, V, is definitely one of the "spice" people I know... in particular, her favourite goodies involve anything and everything ginger. She is the one that introduced me to candied ginger (something I still can't quite enjoy) and the pickled gari from the sushi bar (which I absolutely adore). When it came time to make my Christmas cookie baking list, there was nobody I could think of who would have enjoyed this recipe more than her. More than just your typical gingersnap or chewy spice drop, these became just-sweet-enough embodiments of a ginger trifecta! The cookie dough itself housed both the ground and fresh rhizome, and to decorate the crackly tops I mixed up an incredibly basic icing-sugar and milk drizzle that I tossed some more ground ginger into. The cookies baked into perfectly flat (without being super-thin) discs that had an ever-so-crispy outer shell protecting a toothsome, chewy centre.

Very Vibrant Ginger Cookies
Makes 20
½ cup shortening
¼ cup butter
1 tbsp fresh-grated ginger
¾ cup Demerara sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tbsp corn syrup (or honey)
1 egg white
1 ¼ cups flour
1 cup Kamut flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cloves
½ cup icing sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
4 tsp milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicone.
  2. Cream together shortening, butter, fresh ginger and Demerara sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add molasses, corn syrup, and egg white, beating well.
  4. Beat in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  5. Roll into teaspoon-sized balls, placing on the cookie sheets ½" apart. Press down with the bottom of a greased glass.
  6. Bake 9-11 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes, them move to a cooling rack and cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar, ground ginger and milk.
  8. Drizzle over each cookie and allow it to harden.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 180.1
Total Fat: 7.4 g
Cholesterol: 6.2 mg
Sodium: 25.9 mg
Total Carbs: 30.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Protein: 2.1 g 

It was a bit of a guess-and-hope-for-the-best experiment when it came to making and giving away these next cookies. I personally like the combination of chocolate and mint in cookies, since I find the cooling and slight spice properties of the herb tempers the overbearing sweetness that sometimes embodies a chocolate-filled biscuit. Luckily, both the girl I gave the batch to and the rest of the class who tried them thought so too - I don't think any of them escaped the building!

Minty Chip -Chip Cookies
Makes 12
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp canola oil
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp peppermint extract
¼ cup vanilla soy or rice milk
1 ¼ cups flour
½ tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup coarsely crushed Rice Krispies cereal (about 2/3 cup whole)
2 tbsp ground almonds (optional, can substitute extra crushed Rice Krispies)
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz dairy-free white chocolate (such as Sweet William's Vegan White chocolate, available from Viva Granola), chopped into chunks

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, vanilla, peppermint extract and soy milk.
  3. Stir in flour and cocoa powder until blended, then add Rice Krispies, almonds (if using), baking powder and salt and mix to form a dough.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and white chocolate chunks.
  5. Bake for 9 minutes, then cool completely on the sheets.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 192.6
Total Fat: 8.0 g
Cholesterol: 1.0 mg
Sodium: 22.5 mg
Total Carbs: 31.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.9 g
Protein: 2.7 g

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