As I get older, I slowly begin to accept myself for being how I am. Accept, and then mitigate, because even though I am allowed to be flawed, it would still be nice to have company. In order to make up for my lacks in social grace, I thrust my cooking and baking on my friends. I figure if their bellies are happy and mouths full, they won’t mind hanging out with me.
Moreover, baked goodies are a great way to reciprocate the generosity of others – hence the creation of this particular batch! I used to make cookies with reduced butter and sugar in an effort to make them healthy, but I have since embraced them as a pleasure that should be left alone. The best cookies I have made have a 1 to 2 to 1.5 volume ratio of butter, sugar and flour. With this magical set of numbers, I let the fairies living in the kitchen walls guide me into whipping together these ginger cookies. With their blessings, the cookies not only came out beautifully, but they have an added twist of being speckled with black sesame seeds, and some rye flour for a heartier backbone. Next time I might even try making them with only rye flour, so I can somehow justify eating them for breakfast.
Ginger black sesame rye cookies
makes about 2 dozen
1 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla brandy*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1-1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
about 2/3 cup black sesame seeds
optional: a small handful of little bits of crystallized ginger
*Vanilla brandy can be made by infusing brandy with vanilla beans! It is a pretty awesome and cheap thrill to make your own vanilla extract, but of course you can use regular store-bought vanilla extract.
In a large mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the molasses, egg and vanilla brandy. Beat until smooth. Add the flours and spices, and the crystallized ginger if using. Beat until incorporated. Cover the bottom of a small plate with the sesame seeds. Roll a teaspoon of dough in your palms to make a ball, and dip one side (does a sphere really have a side? Um…well I think you get the idea…) of the ball into the seeds and place seed-side-up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Continue until the baking sheet is full, leaving at least 2″ of space between the balls of dough. Do not flatten the dough! Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies look dry and are lightly browned on the edges. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a plate.
If the dough spreads too quickly, then refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes and then proceed again.
These were delicious – chewy fresh out of the oven, then getting a little crispy the next day, perfect for dipping into milk or tea. Written testimonial from recipients: “Are [sic] 3 already…Yay” – I have a strong hunch that the misspelling and lack of punctuation were because they were busy eating and couldn’t text properly, which pretty much sums it up.