Monday, January 11, 2010

tempting treats for a frosty evening

chocolate gingerbread cookies, meringues, gold dusted and sparkly iced stars, and coconut macaroons

last night, we were happy to serve as the dessert stop (what else?!) on a delightful progressive dinner, and we decided to extend the holiday sparkle that we're all missing a good bit just now with some shimmery, fluffy, possibly even festive treats for our guests. and this isn't a royal "we" -- baking is a family affair here in the fergusandme household, with pretty much everyone pitching in and making favorites, or at least hanging around chatting and waiting for the first batch to come out of the oven, whereupon they are rewarded not only with a couple of meringues, but with some quick washing up to do . . . . 

so, the above are some of our tempting treats for a frosty evening, and below, after the jump, you'll find the first of a batch of yummy recipes . . .  first up, by popular demand, chocolate gingerbread cookies (they're the chocolatey-sugar frosted ones in front)~

from martha stewart's cookies, where else?

chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies

makes two dozen

you will need:

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour   
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, fresh grated if you're up for it, but we weren't, and they taste great
1 teaspoon unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder (found at earthfare, Droste brand)
1/4 lb/1 stick/8 tablespoons butter or unsalted margarine, room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger (easier to find than the nutmeg, but we used minced -- it's wet, in a jar, from someplace like earthfare)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
7 ounces best semi-sweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch chunks (i think we used toll house chunks, sorry martha!)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

steps to follow:

1. line two baking sheets with parchment paper

2. in a bowl, sift together flour, gound ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and fresh ginger on medium speed until lightened, about 4 minutes.  add brown sugar, and beat until combined.  add molasses, and beat until combined.

3. in a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water.  beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.  beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. mix in chocolate; turn out onto plastic wrap. pat out to a 1 inch thickness; seal with wrap. refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight. i highlighted this because this is where, in a new recipe, i usually stomp my foot in impatient exasperation. i didn't want you to be similarly surprised.

4. preheat oven to 325 farenheit. roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. chill 20 minutes. roll in granulated sugar. bake until surfaces just begin to crack. 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. let cool 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

5. eat.


please don't think these are too much work -- it is a fairly easy recipe, and they are definitely crowd pleasers:  just right for a winter evening, and even nice enough for a dinner party, if you serve them with an elegant ice cream.


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