Sunday, October 21, 2012

Extra Spicy Gingersnaps with Chai Frosting

I have, in the past, been called a creative cook, but you wouldn't know it from the dearth of blog posts here in the last few months.  I mostly think I am a good copy-cat with a can-do attitude and some years of experience reading recipes and cooking for a big family.  I have learned how to tweak and adapt to suit my tastes.  I am not afraid to improvise.  I have been known to say, when describing a successfully adapted recipe or cooking idea, that "I just ... did this or that."  That's what happened when I made gingersnaps recently. "I just" added more spices, made a frosting, and came up with a way to serve it as a dessert treat.

I'm going to keep try and keep track of some of those "I just" recipes here.  Coming back to this space and trying to gussy up the old header, however, I discovered my lack of decent, recent food pictures.  So, until I take some, the header will look rather dull.  That's how it is when you are reworking something, right?  You have to go through things being moved around and out of place and not really what you want while you work to get it just right.  So, bear with me.

In the meantime, I offer you my new favorite cookie recipe, with my very great thanks to Irma, whose original recipe I have tweaked, and to Coty, who gave me my copy of Joy the very first Christmas I knew him.

Extra Spicy Gingersnaps with Chai Frosting 

1 1/2 cups softened butter (3 sticks)
3 cups sugar
1 cup molasses
4 eggs
3 tsp. balsamic vinegar
7 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking soda
2-3 Tablespoons ground ginger (yes, I know that's a lot, like the title says, extra spicy)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat over to 325.  Cream the butter.  If you forget to leave it out to soften, you can do it in the microwave for a few seconds.   Don't melt it, just get it soft.

Add sugar to the butter with electric mixer.  I use my Magic Mill - best mixer ever, still going strong after 20 years!  Mix in molasses and vinegar.

In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

Add to wet ingredients and mix til blended.

Roll into 3/4 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet.  Bake 9-11 minutes.  The cookies get that gingersnap crinkle look as they bake.

Remove from oven.  Place cookies on cooling rack.  They will be soft-ish.  That's OK.  You want them soft and chewy.  At least, I do.

Chai frosting

I buy chai spices, also called Tea Masala, already ground and mixed together at the Indian grocery.  There are recipes online, like this one, if you want to make your own.

This is one of those "I just" recipes.  No measurements.  I just add some chai spice powder (about a teaspoon, maybe more, depending on your taste) to some powdered sugar, let's say a quarter of a cup, maybe more. I know I should have measured.  Sorry.  Add enough half and half to make a smoothly flowing icing, not too think, not too runny.  Put it in a small plastic bag, snip off one corner to make a small hole, and squeeze the icing artistically over your cookies.  Be sure the cookies are completely cool before you do this.

If you want to take these cookies a step further, into the decadent dessert department, try this...

Make some homemade caramel sauce.  Really easy.  I promise.  Just follow the directions.

After your sauce is made, break a couple of cookies into chunks in a bowl.  Soften them by warming them in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Take them out and put a scoop or two of your favorite vanilla ice cream on top of the warm cookies.

Spoon caramel sauce over the cookies and ice cream.  Yes, it is very good.  Joel and Albert agree and Albert even brought a half gallon of vanilla ice cream to my house this afternoon in the hopes that there were still cookies and caramel sauce left.

Another sticky, messy version of this dessert if you're out of ice cream and just happen to have marshmallows in your pantry is to place a marshmallow on top of the cookies, soften in the microwave at the same time, and spoon caramel sauce on top of that.  Ooey gooey once in a blue moon treat.

It's a little strange for me to start writing about food again with a cookie/dessert recipe since we don't eat a lot of sweets around here.  When I make something sweet, though, I want it to be worth the calories.  No kind-of-good cookies around here.  If I'm going to eat them, they have to be special.  These are!

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