Every so often, after I have spent the better part of a day trying out recipes and washing pan after pot after bowl several times over in an effort to keep the kitchen from looking as though it suffered through some sort of highly site-specific typhoon, I start to wonder what is wrong with me. Is it really necessary to test out five different variations of a muffin recipe just to get one that I think smells as good as it tastes (don’t even get me started on that one…it seemed really important at the time)? Does it really matter if the squash suffers a crack on one side when roasted if it also happens to taste like a heavenly dream? And do those positively delicious cookies really have to be the size of a quarter, just because when I pictured them in my head they were that small, but, dear lord, it turns out that making them that small will necessitate the forming of, let’s see…200 COOKIES?
That’s right. I made a cookie recipe that yielded 200 individual cookies. Why? Because they were delicious. Because making them any larger would have made them hard and crisp, and hard and crisp was not what I wanted the cookies to be. Because eating tiny cookies makes me happy, makes the people around me happy, and, well, because I sort of began to enjoy making tiny little cookies (after the third or fourth batch) in lieu of regular sized ones. Or, maybe it’s all because of the query I posited in the previous paragraph. Could there be something wrong with me?
The answer is that, yes, there probably is something wrong with me. Of course, it mustn’t be forgotten that there is generally something wrong with everybody, and rather than be upset or bewildered by that fact, I think it behooves us all to relish, rather than reject, that fact. Mild obsession is oftentimes what fuels intense creativity, and, though I would not call my insistence on developing the best bite-sized chewy ginger cookie an incredible feat of genius or inventiveness, it does point to what I believe is an at least mildly admirable trait to possess while in the kitchen: persistence. And not just any kind of persistence, but cookie persistence. That’s what I have, and this is what it lead to—the chewiest, most flavorful bite-sized ginger cookie in all the land.
Chewy Ginger Thins
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
As previously mentioned, these cookies are bite-sized. Each cookie is formed from about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of dough. While this may sound completely insane and like a total waste of time to make, hear me out on this. Forming these cookies is as simple as filling a pastry bag (fitted with a large-ish star tip) with dough and then piping out simple stars of dough on your baking sheet. It takes between 30 and 45 seconds to form roughly 35 cookies on a baking sheet (yes, I timed it), which is substantially less time than it takes to form a similar number of regular sized cookies. Forming these cookies is simple and nearly effortless, so making such a large number of them is hardly more noticeable than forming regular-sized cookies. Don’t have a pastry bag? No problem. Just scoop the dough into a large Ziploc bag, cut off the very tip of one of the bottom corners of the bag, and squeeze out your dough using the Ziploc bag as a pastry bag. Your dough won’t come out in stars, but that’s not a problem since the dough is meant to flatten out when baked.
¾ cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 beaten egg
¼ cup molasses (dark or light are both fine)
1 ½ cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground powdered ginger
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and molasses. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, powdered ginger, and nutmeg, and sift together directly onto the butter mixture. Stir until smooth. Add the fresh ginger, then mix to combine.
Using a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with a bottom corner cut off, pipe or squeeze out cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in approximately ¼ teaspoon portions (if your squeezes turn out marginally larger, don’t worry). Place each cookie about 1 inch apart, lest they stick together as they spread during baking.
Bake cookies on the center rack of the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies have just begun to appear slightly darkened and dry. While the cookies are baking, pipe another batch of cookies onto your second prepared baking sheet.
Cool baked cookies on their parchment sheet placed on a wire rack. When cookies have cooled on a rack for about 5 minutes are and no longer gooey, you can slip the cookies right off of the parchment and reuse the parchment for another batch of cookies.
The desired consistency for these cookies is super chewy but ever-so-slightly firm (they will be very bendy when they come out of the oven, and will become soft-firm when cooled). If you find your cookies are persistently floppy even after having sufficiently cooled, increase the baking time of subsequent batches by 1 minute. The size of these cookies is meant to be small, so keep in mind that making the cookies much larger than called for will substantially change their outcome.
Makes roughly 200 cookies that are the size of a quarter.