This week, I resorted to a tried-and-true method of teaching that for two months I had successfully avoided – bribery. Some teachers give candy as rewards for different things, but being a science teacher, that had been impossible since we obviously can’t have food in laboratory classrooms. I even had to take candy away from my students on Halloween (I know, I felt like a Halloween Scrooge) because they didn’t believe me about not eating in class.
But this week, one of my classes was particularly on top of their game. They were getting work done, answering questions, and in general being awesome. So when I remembered that The Game (Harvard vs. Yale – the only important football game) was this weekend and I would have to bake in advance, I decided to reward them. Now, I had to do so sneakily because it was just the one class (though I am planning on giving out Christmas Cookie Gift Bags before Christmas Break, so no one else can complain), and I had to make something that would not set off any allergies and could be easily packaged so that they didn’t eat them in my classroom. Thus, I ended up making ginger cookies.
First, combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork until you have a spice-colored flour.
In a separate (bigger) bowl, beat the shortening with an electric mixer on low speed until soft – about 30 seconds. You could also use butter or margarine or butter flavored shortening, I just had shortening on hand.
Add the sugar gradually, beating as you go. For me, gradually was 3 batches. If you’re more patient, you can make that take longer. By the end, it should be fluffy, or at least not grainy.
Add the egg and molasses and beat well. Growing up, I never understood why my mom always had like 3 different jars of molasses open and half empty. Why couldn’t she just use up a full jar? Well I now have two half empty jars in my cabinet. I even checked before going to the store to see if I had any already and didn’t see it. I think molasses jars are just impossible to see when you scan a cabinet, so you end up buying and opening another one every time you need it. Mildly frustrating.
Stir in the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. You could use the electric mixer still if you wanted to, but the way the dough is makes it better to stir. It ends up being pretty dry, so with a mixer the consistency isn’t quite right. Also, with a spoon, there’s no need to gradually add the flour since unless you are mixing furiously, the flour isn’t going to spray everywhere.
You’ll end up with a dry, almost play-doh consistency batter that is easily molded with your hands. take bunches of it and roll it with your hands into balls. The bigger the ball, the bigger the cookie, obviously, and I think these work best as pretty big cookies. I made them on the small side to stretch the batch for each student to get one, but normally I would make about 2 inch balls instead of 1 inch.
Roll them in sugar and place them about 2 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
If you are feeling fancy, you can use a fork to criss cross the top like this:
But I thought they looked a little too much like peanut butter cookies like that, so for the rest of them I just left them as balls on the cookie sheet. When they were cooling on a cooling rack (let them cool in the sheet for a couple minutes first to crisp up), they looked way better, like this:
Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. I put mine in baggies and gave them to my students, who didn’t believe I made them myself. They were convinced I just bought cookies and put them in bags. Oh well, you guys have the proof.
Big Soft Ginger Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup shortening or butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons sugar for rolling
- Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl with a fork and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer on low until soft, about 30 seconds.
- Gradually beat in sugar until fluffy and combined.
- Add egg and molasses and beat well.
- Stir in dry ingredients.
- Roll 2 inch balls of dough in sugar and place 2 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.