Ginger Snaps

I write this while taking a break from what I can only describe as an obsessive holiday baking session.  It would be generous to say this baking frenzy happens only once a year, but as my family will attest, this really occurs at any given opportunity (read: Honey Cake, Pumpkin Bread, Hamantaschen).

When I look for that ultimate holiday treat, I always turn to the greats for a fail safe recipe.  This year I am channeling Ina.  It is not only about the quality of the gift, but the presentation, and I absolutely love Ina's effortlessly simple packaging and style.  So this year's festive gifts are spiced, chewy molasessey balls of sugary delights in simple clear bags, tied with bakers twine and cute labels.  I hope Ina will be proud.

Ginger Snaps (aka the perfect holiday gift)

Very slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

Makes 18-22 cookies, depending on the size you roll

315g (2 1/4 cups) plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

215g (1 cup) dark brown sugar

60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil

80ml (1/3 cup) molasses

1 large egg

50g (1/2 cup) crystalised ginger (not in syrup), chopped

approximately 200g (1 cup) demarara sugar for rolling the cookies

In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Turn the mixer to low and add the egg, continuing to beat for another 2 minutes.  Scrape the bowl and beat for one more minute.

Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat on a medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in the candied ginger.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour of overnight, and upto a week (otherwise it is a very messy rolling job)

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180C (350F), and line 2 baking sheets with parchment

Pour the demarara sugar in to a shallow bowl, and with 2 medium sized spoons (or a small ice cream scoop), roll the dough into balls.  Drop each ball into the sugar and roll until it is covered.

Place each ball on the baking sheets, with a little room around each one as they will spread as they cook.

Bake for 13 minutes.  They will crack as they cook, but be soft on the inside.  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes until they are firm enough to handle, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

They will stay moist and chewy for at least 3-4 days.