As you can probably guess, these cookies are a family recipe, though I don’t remember my (great) aunt Shirley ever making them. She and my uncle Pete lived in Harwich when I was growing up, 40 minutes or so from Falmouth, so we’d go for visits. Mostly what I remember is the array of snacks that Shirley always had out for us–it’s probably the place where I developed an interest in port-flavored spreadable cheese in a plastic tub (just finished a tub the other day, in fact)–and she always had onion dip too, brand name “Heluva Good.”
She also had an inflatable green ottoman that I liked to roll around on.
Regardless of what I remember, my mom says this recipe is from her–it’s in a nice old wooden recipe box, on a yellowing index card. This blog is a lot less romantic than that box.
I don’t think I tried these cookies until a few years ago–why weren’t we making them all along I ask??–and now they are the only ginger cookies I want to eat. If you like the heavily spiced Christmasy ones, these will be a surprise. The base is just sugar cookie dough, a little richer because of all the brown sugar, but pretty plain. The ginger comes in the form of crystallized ginger, which is chopped and added to the sugar cookie dough. The crunchy ginger gets a little backup from the rim of turbinado sugar that surrounds the cookie, and unlike many ginger cookies these stay chewy in the center. I like that.
Also, because you roll the dough into logs these become a slice-and-bake affair. Bake as many as you want to eat and save the rest for later.
Aunt Shirley’s Ginger Sugar Cookies
makes about 2 dozen
1 C brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 C finely chopped crystallized ginger
turbinado sugar (around 1/2 C or so)
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer. Add the egg and beat well until the mixture is homogeneous.
Meanwhile, in another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chopped crystallized ginger.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir gently to combine. Stick the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, until the dough has firmed up a bit. Pour the turbinado sugar onto a big plate or cutting board–you’re going to roll the dough logs in it. Take the dough out of the fridge, divide it in half, form each half into a log about 2” in diameter, and roll each log in the sugar until it’s evenly coated. Wrap the logs individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. At this point, you can put one log in the freezer, if you like–future cookies!
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking pan with parchment paper. When you want cookies (and have waited until the logs are firm), slice off as many cookies as you’d like with a sharp knife. They should be about 1 cm thick. Distribute them evenly on the parchment paper, press them down a little, and pop in the oven. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden around the edges. Mine take exactly 9 minutes.
A note about your little slice-and-bake rolls. As they firm up in the fridge they may become less than cylindrical. I once read that Martha Stewart recommends storing your cookie logs in leftover paper towel tubes. I’m not clever enough to have any of those on hand so I take the logs out and roll them around on the counter every 10 minutes or so, until they’re firm enough to hold their shape in the fridge.