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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

My holiday gift to you

I'm giving you something precious this year for the holiday of your choice. Yeah, I know you're probably sick of baking and all you want to do is order out or hire a chef, but just in case you have some time and some energy, I'm giving you the greatest cookie in the world.

My friend Jean is a ginger-a-holic. Give her anything with ginger, she's in heaven. I've never seen anyone love one flavor above the others like Jean and her ginger. So a few years back I was looking for the worlds greatest ginger cookie. I searched cookbooks and online forums. I tried many different recipes. Some were kind of boring. Some didn't have quite enough spice for my ginger-loving friend. Some were too much of a pain to make more than once. I was almost ready to give up and admit there was never going to be the perfect cookie for Jean.

But then I found this recipe. The first time I made it was at Jean's house. Now I love Jean more than just about anyone, but her kitchen is really sparse in the applicance department. Oh, she's got a cooktop and a great oven, but she never cooks. Ever. She says she cooked every night for about 60 years and she has no interest in ever cooking again. Her specialty is fruit salad. The woman makes a killer fruit salad. She makes applesauce, rhubarb-strawberry sauce, apple pies once a year for Thanksgiving, and that it is. She heats up food she gets at Whole Foods, or she eats simple salads and yogurt. Luckily she has a daughter-in-law right here in town that is a wonderful cook, and a daughter who cooks as well. I think she'd starve otherwise, but she really does eat well and is remarkably healthy for someone in her mid-eighties.

Anyhow, baking in Jeans house is an adventure. You have to be willing to improvise and to do everything by hand. No kitchenaide mixer for Jean. But I really wanted to make her the perfect cookie because, to be truthful, the woman lives on cookies. She loves her cookies and she hates chocolate.

I mixed up the batter, which is very stiff, by hand and rolled out the cookies in granulated sugar. We put them on the pan, and into the oven and from the second that batter started to melt, the house filled up with the most wonderful smell. Heavy gingery molassas smell. Spicy and sweet. Dark and very rich. We were salivating by the time they were ready. The first bite told the whole store. These are cookies to die for. They have everything gingerbread lacks. They're dark and chewy and full of heat. They're grown-up cookies. My kids like them, but they don't love them. However, every adult that has ever eatem them has raved about them.

So this is my gift to you, dear internets.

Triple Ginger Cookies

11 tablespoons unsalted butter -- softened
1 cup molasses
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
Granulated' sugar for dusting


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and molasses with a mixer or a wooden spoon until well
blended.

Add the sugar and mix until well blended.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Mix the ground, crystallized, and fresh ginger into the dry ingredients.

Stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture in three batches until just
blended.

Roll the dough in 1 tablespoon chunks into 1-inch balls.

Roll the balls in granulated sugar you've placed in a shallow bowl.

Arrange the balls 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies crack slightly on top but are still moist inside,
about 13 minutes.

Cool on racks.

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