Jeanne Ambrose and Lindsey Ambrose are a mother-daughter seasoned food-writing team who, between 'em, have done a lot of eating around.
     Jeanne creates, edits, and writes food, nutrition, and health features. Lindsey is a small-space gardener extraordinaire with a penchant for cooking fresh and local. She goes for full-flavored, somewhat-spicy cuisine with a flair for ethnic-fusion feasts. Read More >>


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Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.

Am doing my civic duty this weekend and dedicating batches of baking to the Milwaukee police precinct in my neighborhood. Still paying back the officers who tended to the emotional havoc I experienced after being held up by a gun-wielding youth a few years ago.

The Milwaukee Police Dept. has been getting a lot of bad press lately. But they have a tough job. And they’ve always been kind to me.

Anyway, I’ve been making these for years. I got my first taste of them while an editor at Better Homes and Gardens. Then again after I became editor at Taste of Home magazine when we sent batches of these to soldiers (slightly different recipe). They pack well and hold their flavor for a looong time. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Oh, yeah.

I can’t take credit for this version. It may have originated from BH&G; or come from a Taste of Home reader…and it’s all over Pinterest, so who knows? I always tweak recipes, so maybe it’s mine now!

I sometimes use my 1/4-cup size ice scream scoop and make GIANT ginger cookies. If you want to go that route, increase the baking time by 2 or 3 minutes. And you will only get a couple dozen big ol’ cookies out of the batch, rather than about 5 dozen cookies.

 

Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies

Makes 63 cookies (1 tablespoon dough/cookie)

4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup mild-flavored molasses
3/4 cup sparkling (or course) sugar or sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Stir together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat shortening for about 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups sugar and beat until combined. Beat in eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Shape dough into balls (I made these exactly 1 tablespoon per ball), and roll them in the remaining sugar. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. Tops will be slightly puffed and soft. Don’t over bake. Cool for 1 -2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to rack.

Shortcut Dark Chocolate Almost Toffee

You may have fallen in love with these already. But if you need a really fast homemade gift, this is it.

Saltine crackers, blanketed in melty butter and brown sugar, plus a heavy-handed scattering of chocolate chips and almonds. Done.

I’ve been making this for years from a recipe that was handed to me scribbled on a piece of notepaper. I’ve tweaked it a bit to include dark chocolate and sliced almonds. (But you’ll probably find something similar all over the Web.)
It’s one of my go-to last-minute treats for entertaining…You can have a batch ready for nibbling in 15 to 20 minutes.
Crunch. Munch. Moan (in an ecstatic way).
Dark Chocolate and Almond Toffee Crisps
 
40 saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips and/or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (10x15x1) or rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil). Line the crackers in a single layer on the parchment paper in pan.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Let it bubble for 3 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour mixture over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top; let stand for 5 minutes, then spread melted chips evenly over all. Top with sliced almonds. Cool completely, then cut or break toffee into pieces.