But what if the original was truly terrific? Is it possible to improve on something with no obvious flaws?
Of all the cookies that I've made, my husband's very favorite is Ginger Cookies. He adores them. He brightens like the sun coming through the clouds when I make them for him. And it's comical to watch his internal struggle play out on his face when I suggest sharing them with friends. It's hard for him to watch them go out the door. Even if I make a double batch. He wants to be generous,...but, but,....they're Ginger Cookies!
So it was something of a gamble to try a new recipe. When I read in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home that she'd found the perfect ginger cookie, I thought, "Hey, I've got ginger cookies down. How do you improve upon perfection?" Well, to begin with, you add more spices and pump up the ginger flavor with chunks of crystallized ginger. The result? A moist cookie that shouts in your mouth. You can't gobble these cookies because each bite demands your attention. Not necessarily a bad thing.
My taste test panel, in between bites, said they loved them and, if you'd excuse me, I've got to go get a glass of milk to dunk them in. My dear friend fed her toddler bites which he happily munched and then would say with a cherubic smile on his face, "Num num, num num" That's my kind of food critic.
My husband likes them, but decided his favorite is still the old standard. Sometimes, when there's sentiment involved, it's hard to let go of an old favorite. You decide for yourself whether these cookies deserve the title of
The Ultimate Ginger Cookie
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 oz)
Granulated sugar for rolling the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (I never used to use parchment paper, now I'm addicted. It keeps the food intact and makes clean-up a snap.)
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then stir the mixture to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer 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 still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.
With a small ice cream scoop roll the dough into a 1-3/4 inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the cookie sheets.
Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.