December 21, 2009

Chai-Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Ginger

Well, it seems I haven't written here in a while. I've been cooking a lot, but with working full-time, traveling, and preparing for the holidays, I haven't had the energy to sit down and write about it. On Saturday night, while 10 inches of snow were being dumped on New York City in our first major snowfall of the season, I was braising - my favorite kitchen activity for snowy days, or whenever the temperature dips below freezing, for that matter. I made delicious Short Ribs Provencale from Epicurious, a dish I've had a couple of times -- and went ga-ga for -- when my mom has made it. And it did not disappoint; a perfect winter dinner with buttery mashed potatoes, a simple romaine and parsley salad, and a glass of red wine. (The next day I found out my mom had also made the recipe the same evening - scary.)

Anyway, on to the topic of this post -- cookies! I don't make cookies often, but I like to have some on hand during the holidays. While the short ribs were braising, I had some time to ponder what kind of cookies to bake this year -- and thought it would be fun to try chai-spiced chocolate chip cookies. I decided to go back to basics and start with the chocolate chip drop cookie recipe from my trusty Joy of Cooking, and then add chai-inspired spices and chopped crystallized ginger to up the holiday quotient (since plain chocolate chip cookies just don't seem that festive to me). I also replaced half of the recipe's all-purpose white flour with whole spelt flour (rule of thumb: it is usually safe to replace up to one-half of the white flour in a recipe with whole grain flour without compromising the results). I decided not to mess with the white sugar/brown sugar ratio or substitute natural sweeteners this time, though, because I didn't want to tinker too much and end up with a disaster on my hands.

The result: a crisp, nicely spiced cookie chock full of butter-and-brown-sugary-goodness, somewhat reminiscent of a gingersnap, and with the added decadence of chocolate chips studded throughout. Not one for the diet books, but hey, it's the holidays. We can start with the steamed brown rice and green juices on January 1st!

Chai-Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Ginger

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
1. Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2. Then gradually add, and beat until creamy:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3. Beat in:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (I sifted all except the salt and spelt flour, since the larger flakes of bran won't fit through the sieve):
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole spelt flour
1 tsp fine-grained salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of allspice (about 1/4 tsp)
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet with a wooden spoon. Then stir in:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped candied (crystallized) ginger
6. Drop dough by the the spoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.
Makes about 48 3-inch cookies.