Let's just start off by saying that I made 376 of these over the weekend. Yes, 376. Sometimes I get very excited about an opportunity to feed people and before I know it, my mouth has opened up and I have volunteered to take on a task that many people would consider their own personal hell. I usually end up realizing what I've done sometime around batch 5 or 6 of whatever baked good I have decided is tasty enough to feed the masses. Oh well; it's done.
I don't know if it was my change from vegetable to canola oil or just a different oven, but this year the cookies flattened out into very thin disks as opposed to the slightly fluffier cookies of years past. At first I was disappointed by this, but then I tasted them and decided they were actually more "ginger snappy" than before because they snapped when I bit into them. I do not like crisp cookies, so normally I would be put off by this. However, despite their thinness, these cookies manage to retain a soft and chewy center. I think Santa will love them just as much as I do.
[Additional note: Two-thirds of those 376 cookies were wrapped up into little packages as gifts for our Board of Directors. I thought it was a nice gesture and I know the cookies are delicious, but I never expected people to make such a to-do over them. The festive little bundles earned numerous compliments and a hearty round of applause during the meeting. Perhaps more surprising, though, was that after the meeting I noticed that my stash of six extras -- which I had stowed way off to the side of the room, almost entirely out of sight -- had mysteriously dwindled to just two, and the three or so extra that had been left on the tables were definitely nowhere to be found when the room emptied out.
There are a few lessons to be gleaned from this story: 1) These cookies are delicious, so you should make them right away. 2) People really appreciate thoughtful, homemade gifts. 3) Presentation is important. For each Board member, I wrapped up seven cookies in a clear treat bag, tied it with grosgrain ribbon (pronounced "grow grain" -- my favorite -- it always looks classy, and if you need proof, even the Board members who ate their cookies during the meeting took the strand of ribbon with them), and attached a glass ornament and hand-stamped, handwritten tag that read "Best wishes for a holiday season filled with homemade treats and happiness." Click here to see the detail on the stamp.]
Recipe via Allrecipes.com
Yields about 3 dozen cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
granulated sugar for decoration
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg until well combined. Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Chill dough until firm enough to hold its shape. Use a 1" scoop to form dough into balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (no need to flatten; cookies will spread out considerably in the oven). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops begin to crack and the cookies no longer appear sticky. Cool on the baking sheet until firm and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
These cookies may lose their "snap" when you put them all together in an airtight container, but they will stay soft and chewy for weeks that way. (If you want them to stay crisp, put them in a not-so-airtight container.)