Put down the cookbooks! I have found the perfect Christmas cookie.
Bold words, I know. But hear me out.
First of all, they’re cute. Some might even say “cute as a button.”
Second, they’re packed with holiday flavors like cinnamon, ginger, molasses, chocolate […what? chocolate is an every-time flavor!], and orange zest.
Third, one batch make a ton—about 5 dozen cookies. That’s going to go a long way toward filling holes in your cookie plates!
And finally, these cookies have the most desirable holiday trait of all, which is that they stay moist for a crazy long amount of time. Like, a week later, after being stored at room temperature in a plastic tub, they’re still soft and delicious with nary a stale crumb. If I didn’t make them myself, I would suspect preservative shenanigans.
But I did make them myself, and I practically ate all of them myself, so I can vouch for the stay-softiness, and easy-of-makingness, and just general deliciousness of these cookies.
They may not look like the fanciest cookie—in fact, Jason said several times, with an almost insulting amount of surprise in his voice, “Wow, these taste way better than they look!”*—but they do have a certain sweet charm to them, especially when topped with a star-shaped chocolate button. I used Brach’s milk chocolate stars, which were just hanging around the other chocolate chip bags at my local Target. I suspect they’re a seasonal thing, since I hadn’t noticed them before, but if you can’t find them, then unwrapped Hershey’s kisses would be a good substitute.
*A classic example of the complisult, the love child of a compliment and insult. Hurts so good! However, Jason does an unholy amount of dishes for me, so he gets a complisult pass every now and then.
The flavor of these cookies is heavy on the gingerbread, and lighter on the chocolate. I based them on a gingersnap molasses cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, but added cocoa to the dough, as well as a little orange zest. The orange may seem out of place, but I think it ties together the ginger and chocolate elements, while adding a light, fresh flavor that keeps the ginger taste from becoming too intense. If you’re suspicious, you’re welcome to leave it out…but really…don’t you trust me?
And thus ends the quest for the perfect holiday cookie. Now you’ll just have to take all that time you were going to spend testing recipes and devote it to online shopping instead. You’re welcome!
P.S. Just can’t get enough of that chocolate-gingerbread flavor combination? Allow me to introduce you to Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies, aka The Best Thing To Come Out of My Kitchen in 2012:
Soft Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
- 12 1/3 oz all-purpose flour (2 3/4 cups)
- 3/4 oz unsweetened cocoa powder (1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 oz butter (3/4 cup), at room temperature
- 5 2/3 oz brown sugar (3/4 cup), packed
- 1 3/4 oz granulated sugar (1/4 cup), plus extra for rolling
- 4 1/2 oz unsulfured molasses (1/3 cup)
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp packed orange zest (from 1/2 large orange)
- 60 milk chocolate stars or chocolate kisses
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, all spices, and salt, Set aside for a moment.
Place the butter and both sugars in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Add the molasses, egg, vanilla extract, and orange zest, and beat until well-mixed. The mixture might look a little broken at this point. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish mixing by hand, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a spatula.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of cling wrap, and wrap it well. Chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pour some granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll the chilled cookie dough into small 1-inch balls and roll the balls in granulated sugar. Place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 7-8 minutes, until puffed and dry in the center, but still soft.
Remove the tray from the oven, and immediately press a chocolate star or unwrapped chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet. These cookies keep amazingly well and, if stored in an airtight container at room temperature, will be soft and moist for up to a week after baking.
Recipe adapted from Soft-Baked Gingersnap Molasses Cookies on Sally’s Baking Addiction
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