17 March, 2010

The spice of life.

I feel I should warn you, I'm not writing from the same place. A week ago, I was writing while wrapped in a handknit, to-the-floor scarf and wearing scratchy but warm socks to bed. Pretty titillating, yes?

Today, I'm outside, on the stairs, in a short-sleeved T-shirt. With a small rip on the left side. The birds are gossiping like mad, and even a lone cigale, the insect troubadour of southern French summer, picked up her instrument. I know, she's as confused as the rest of us. But the air is ever so sweet and easy to breathe, there are endless distractions in the quality of the light and the disorienting heat upon bare skin. I've shed clothes as the unwanted burdens they've become, and am taking on the neglected garden. You can see how all this might make a winter-white girl a touch giddy. At kid level--and sometimes mine--this weather goodness translates to a resumption of tree-climbing and romping treks with the Weimaraner in the lead. Chickens are stalked (not by the Weimaraner), caught and cuddled. Grass stains have been reinstated. My mat migrated to the terrace, and I've been feeling very yogic. This too shall pass.

But in the meantime, there is the now, and the primal need for a snack. For a ginger lover verging on addict, the answer is fairly obvious. The no-frills, darkly spiced ginger snap. By the way, I like making this kind of cookie small because that way I have to reach for the stash more often, which then elevates snacking to a physical activity, kind of. Feel free to adopt this innovation.

In my snacking quest, I was inspired by Mary the Food Librarian, who seems to like ginger as much as I do: I found 26 posted recipes with ginger and an additional 11 for gingerbread at her blog. And she loves this recipe, so I tried it too. Available online but new to me, it is from Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa, former White House nuclear policy analyst under Carter and Ford turned cooking guru...And I've got to agree with Mary. The recipe is pretty darn good, even though I didn't have nearly enough crystallized ginger at hand. It's also a snap to make (he, he).

Anyway, with these, milk and rosy-cheeked kids. Or a cup of tea, if you insist upon playing at being grown-up.
Les Biscuits au Gingembre d'Ina Garten (Ina Garten's Ultimate Ginger Cookies)

Note: this makes so many cookies (if you make them smaller) I recommend making as much as you want now and placing the remaining dough in the fridge to be used later.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger
sugar, for rolling cookies
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. Beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the speed to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients, then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place on sheet pans. Bake for exactly 10 minutes. The cookies will be cracked on the top and soft inside. Allow the cookies cool for a minute or two and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


  1. I do love a good ginger cookie. Feeling like I need a domestic day tomorrow. I may just make these cookies. And I think you might be onto something. If you make the cookies really small, then just the act of chewing and eating them would burn the calories, right?

    Love the photos on this, by the way.

  2. Ina Garten is my favorite. I always try to watch her shows on "the food network". Thanks for the easy, delicious cookie recipe.

  3. Rose, if you really want a workout, put little cookies up high in a cabinet. Then, everytime you pass and decide you want one, reach HIGH...Feel the burn. he he.

    Nadege, I think Ina's background is so darn interesting. From nuclear discussions to coeur a la creme? How many people manage that?


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