I was in the mood for baking the other day, so I pulled out all of my baking ingredients and placed them on the counter. I wasn’t sure which direction I would go. I just felt like making cookies. The weather was cool outside. It was cloudy and raining. I could feel myself yearning for a sweater (it wasn’t that cool yet) and a place to curl up near the window. I wanted something warm and comforting and full of spices. That yearning took me in the direction of these Chewy Spice Cookies.
I have a favorite recipe that I’ve been making for a few years around Christmastime. I always wonder why I don’t make them all year long. Well, part of the reason is that there is never a shortage of treats around our house and when there is, it doesn’t last for long. But as much as I love ice cream and custards and tarts, sometimes I just want a soft, chewy cookie. They take me back to being a little kid. My mom also loves cookies and she always had a tin full of homemade cookies that we could dip into when we came home from school.
My mom made the best gingersnaps ever. She had clipped the recipe from the newspaper years ago and filed it in her recipe box. Every so often she would pull it out and we would make those cookies. I loved the feel of the soft dough in my hands as we formed them into balls between our palms and rolled them in sugar before placing them on baking sheets. It repeat the process now with my own children. They love it just as much as I did.
Mom’s gingersnap cookies didn’t spread much in the oven. When they came out, they were perfectly round, chubby, thick mounds that smelled heavenly. I could hardly ever refrain from eating one straight off the baking sheet when it was piping hot. They were fantastic with a glass of milk and I enjoyed them more than any of the other cookies my mother made.
Funny enough, even though these cookies of mine are gluten-free and vegan, they were the cookies my kids requested more than the other cookies I made that same afternoon. These cookies were just for me, or so I thought. They disappeared in two days flat – which was about as long as I could keep them hidden from small hands and after-school appetites.
If you’re not gluten-free, use all-purpose flour in place of the GF flour. They might spread a bit more, but not much. The brown rice syrup makes the cookies extra chewy, but if you don’t have that on hand you can use honey, maple syrup, agave or extra brown sugar.
Use the freshest spices you can. That might mean grinding your own, which I do most of the time. Or buying fresh. It’s a good time to stock up on spices at the bulk section. Also, spices will start going on sale as the holidays approach. I didn’t have ground ginger on hand for these cookies, so I used what I had – diced crystallized ginger. If you don’t have that on hand, use 1 teaspoon ground ginger instead.
- 1¾ cup GF flour mix
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- ½ cup oil (canola, safflower, grape seed, coconut oil, etc.)
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup (honey, agave, maple syrup)
- ¼ cup unsulphured black molasses
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1½ tsp. very hot water
- ½ cup finely chopped candied ginger
- ½ cup turbinado sugar, for rolling
- Sift flours and dry spices together.
- Whisk oil, sugar, brown rice syrup, and molasses. Using an electric mixer, add the dry ingredients a little at a time until combined. Mix the baking soda and hot water. Beat into the dough. Add the candied ginger. Cover and chill until cold. (Dough will be sticky.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop about 1 Tbsp. pieces of dough out of the bowl and roll to form a ball. Roll the ball in the granulated sugar and place on the cookie sheet. Gently press down on the dough. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until cookies are set. Transfer to a cooling rack and store in an airtight container.