It smells like Christmas in our apartment. Though it’s 100+ degrees outside, inside is filled with the aromas of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, molasses and chocolate. I can close my eyes and imagine the glow of a decorated tree, carols playing softly, and snow drifting quietly to the ground.
This week’s selection from the Gourmet Live list of 50 WomenGame-Changers is number 4: Martha Stewart. It seems that just about everyone has an opinion about Ms. Stewart, both positive and negative. Sometimes very negative. When The Picky Eater heard I was writing about her this week, his first question was, “Do you have to wear an ankle bracelet while you write?”
Yeah, that kind of negative.
However, I have always been a fan of Ms. Stewart’s shows, books, and magazine. I got excited about planting seeds in the ground when I fell in love with her book Martha Stewart’s Gardening. The book, along with her television programs, gave me the courage to start my first vegetable garden.
Ms. Stewart’s television shows and Living magazine also inspired me in the kitchen. Because of her, I got the courage to make my own marshmallows and started collecting refrigerator ware. I’ve scrubbed cutting boards with salt and half of a lemon, mixed up a bottle of all-natural ant repellent, and created a Christmas card tree with a an actual tree branch all because of her.
I am grateful to Martha Stewart for the gift of fearlessness. In much the same way Julia Child inspired home cooks a generation before, Ms. Stewart made me believe that I could do so many things I never though possible with a go-ahead-and-try attitude.
To honor Ms. Stewart this week, I made her Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies from Martha’s Entertaining. I did make a few changes to the recipe. (What cook doesn’t, right?) The original calls for both dried ground ginger and grated fresh ginger. I left out the fresh because I don’t normally have it on hand, and increased the amount of the dried ginger. Also, the original called for 7 ounces of best-quality semisweet chocolate broken into 1/4-inch pieces. I used best-quality semisweet chocolate chips. (Ghirardelli) Finally, the original called for rolling out the dough into balls and then refrigerating for 20 minutes before rolling in sugar and baking. I found this step to be unnecessary. The cookies came out the same chilled or not.
My only problem with this recipe? The cookies didn’t look like the ones in the book! Mine were thicker, while the ones in the book were spread out flat. However, the cookies in the recipe image on Ms. Stewart’s website looked more like mine, so I felt much better. Part of me wonders if mine didn’t spread out as much because I used chocolate chips, which have stabilizers that help them hold their shape, instead of broken-up chocolate chunks. I did discover if I pressed down of the dough balls slightly before baking, the cookies did spread out just a little bit more.
Still, what’s most important is the taste. These cookies are wonderful! Chocolate is the first flavor you notice, followed quickly by the spices. Then you feel the warmth of the ginger. Delicious!
The plate-full I left for the other residents on our apartment building floor disappeared almost instantly! I guess they enjoyed them, too!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Martha’s Entertaining by Martha Stewart
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar and then the molasses. In a small bowl, disolve the baking soda with the boiling water.
On low speed, mix in half of the flour mixture. Add in the baking soda/water mixture, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Finally stir in the chocolate chips.
Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Press flat to about 1-inch thick. Cover with the wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and break off into pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about 1 1/2-inch thick. Roll the ball into the granulated sugar and place on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until the tops crack, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the cookie sheet halfway through the cooking time.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Move the cookies to a cooling rack. Once cool, store the cookies in an airtight container.