Updated: Nov 10
I am not a holiday baker. I am generally not any kind of baker. Today I got inspired by a random recipe for slow cooker toffee pudding (which I did not end up making) and after some noodling around in the kitchen I came up with (I think) a new kind of gingerbread cookie.
If you like gingerbread, you will really, really like this cookie. If you don't like gingerbread, you and I have nothing more to say to one another.
While I was baking these cookies, the teen in my house was writing a paper on the Battle of Dien Bien Phu while dressed in what has now become his homework attire, which is a 50s men's silk dressing gown and a fedora. He looks like Hanukkah Harry. (For those who don't know him, every year Hanukkah Harry stops by our house at sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, driving up from Florida in his Caprice Classic. He leaves the boy presents, complaining about the cold, his sinuses, the long drive on his tuchis, and spoiled Jewish children). I should have made these for Harry's arrival.
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for greasing the baking sheet.
1 tablespoon espresso (I used Illy caffe because even though it is $10 a can, I tell myself I am saving so much money by never going to Starbucks. Illy as a baking ingredient is something I need to explore further).
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
powdered or confectioner's sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly grease with butter.
Make the brown butter. Browning butter is really easy and is worth the added step because delivers an intense flavor. If you can imagine what toasted butter smells and tastes like, that's brown butter!
Cut unsalted butter into evenly-sized pieces and place it in a pan. Always use a light-colored pan so you can see how dark the butter gets as it cooks. Turn on the heat to medium and let the butter melt. Stir or swirl the pan continuously until the butter becomes a light tan color and milk solids start to appear as brown grit. At this point, you can take the pan off the burner because the butter will continue cooking even after you remove it from the heat. The butter should be nut-brown and have a rich toasty smell. Pour the brown butter into a separate bowl to keep it from cooking further. Let it cool down.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown butter (be sure to add all the little brown bits of cooked milk solids), maple syrup, brown sugar, eggs, and espresso until the mixture is smooth.
Whisk the dry mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.
Roll golfball-sized balls of dough and place on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly into fat disks.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Dust with confectioner's sugar. I think you could also decorate them with icing.
I didn't try making shapes with these cookies, because the dough is a little too wet for that. Might be worth a few experiments with more flour to see if I can get gingerbread man consistency.
On the subject of cookies, I leave you with this. Once you see the Cookie Monster, you will never again un-see him.