I need to be straight with you guys. I was off my kitchen game last week, hence my absence from the blogosphere. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Oh no, I thought my persistence would pay off eventually, but sometimes a girl doesn’t know when to quit.
It all started on Saturday when I went to Joann Fabrics to look for feathers for my Halloween costume. I left without feathers, but with a donut pan (cause that’s the same). Sunday morning I woke up and was all, “I’m going to make pumpkin chocolate donuts with orange sprinkles in my new donut pan! Yay Halloween!” I then proceeded to make two batches of “donuts,” which looked awfully nice, but the texture was like bread and the flavor was like…well nothing. To the trash they went.
Then I decided to make pizza dough so I could have it ready for baking throughout the week, and maybe sneak in some cooking photos before the early sunset (shorter days make life hard for the food photography perfectionist). I bought some pizza ingredients on Monday after work, then came home to find that the boy surprised me by coming back from “Deer Camp” early. Whatta guy. Instead of a new experimental dish, I used my pizza dough for our tried-and-true calzones, and decided to jazz things up by making a balsamic glaze for drizzling. Do you know what happens to balsamic glaze if you bring it to a boil and then forget about it? It turns to a solid…a solid that looks like a lava rock, and sticks to the pan like one too.
On Tuesday the boy’s mom brought us a Halloween treat basket with Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix. “Perfect,” I thought, “I’ll make some pumpkin chocolate brownies to bring into work on Halloween! How festive!” I baked them, tried a corner, and thought they tasted great. Fast forward 13 hours, when I grabbed one after lunch on Halloween and I realized the bars were under-baked, under-sweetened and…wet. Yes, wet. Embarrassed, I removed them from the communal kitchen and hung my head in shame.
It may have taken three failures to make me see the light, but I finally realized that it was just not my week in the kitchen, and certainly not my week to try to guide others on how to succeed in the kitchen. Rejection and defeat finally set in. As a golfer might say, I had a case of the shanks.
I was trying to figure out how to rebound from my week of failures when I received my first daily holiday cookie email of the season. I decided the best way to recover would be with an old favorite: soft ginger cookies that I make year-round, but more often around the holidays. I know it’s the first week of November, and that may seem a tad early to bring up “holiday” talk, but in my book it’s never too early for festive treats or feeling jolly. As a side note, I’m also a person who has already checked if my local Christmas music station has started up the seasonal tunes, so take my “too early” radar with a grain of salt.
My college cafeteria had the most amazing ginger cookies, but you could never count on them being in the dessert aisle when you needed them. My friend Emma introduced me to them, and once I got my hands on one I was hooked. I don’t know if they didn’t make them everyday, or if they just didn’t make enough of them to keep up with the demand, but Emma and I would often be disappointed when we scoped out the ginger cookie situation. The recipe below is as close as I’ve come to replicating those evasive cafeteria cookies. They’re fluffy, soft, and full of warm spices.
Since I made these baby-sized, they’re the perfect amount of sugar for a little bite of after-meal sweetness. However, if we’re being honest, I really wanted to make these baby-sized because mini foods are just so darn cute. I’m such a girl.
And yes, those are Christmas candles in the images above. Yes, I just bought those this weekend. Yes, it’s just the beginning.
Soft Ginger Cookies
Adapted from All Recipes.
Makes 4 dozen mini cookies.
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup white sugar (for rolling)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Whisk together the flour, spices, salt and soda in a bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl, cream the butter, then add 1 cup sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in the egg, and then pour in the vanilla, molasses, and water.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, making sure the flour is fully incorporated.
- Fill a small bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Scoop up a small amount of dough (I did about 1/2 tablespoon size), roll into a ball, then roll in the sugar. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake 8-9 minutes.
My kitchen shanks are fixed just in time to kick off the holidays! Or at least in time to start thinking about kicking off the holidays? Sometime soon? Who’s with me?