Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Iced Whiskey Ginger Cookies

In the holiday spirit, I signed up for the 2012 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. The decision was a no-brainer: the registration proceeds go to Cookies For Kids' Cancer, and I got to receive three batches of delicious, homemade cookies from other likeminded bloggers around the country! (Special thanks to The Novice Chef's lovely chai snickerdoodles, The Forgotten Teaspoon's decadent Kahlua fudge bites, and Burnt Apple's melt-in-your-mouth butterscotch cookies.) Those of you who know me well know that I can always be enticed with a cookie.
Although eager to begin, I was faced with a seriously difficult decision: what cookie to bake for my three recipients? I combed through dozens of recipes, looking for the perfect cookie to meet my criteria: holiday-themed, unique, and tried-and-true. Finally, I found the winner: Iced Whiskey Ginger Cookies.
Ginger cookies are a holiday staple, and this recipe delivers quite the gingery bite with its mix of both freshly grated and ground ginger. Crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside, a hearty dose of molasses delivers a richly spiced burst of flavor in every bite. They may be small in size, but these cookies are not subtle in taste.
While the ginger is certainly the supporting actor in this play, it is the whiskey that steals the show; used in three different ways to elevate these cookies way above and beyond your average gingersnap. Soaked up in the cherries (which deliver a lovely sweet contrast to your spicy cookie), mixed in the batter, and drizzled in the frosting, the whiskey delivers a silky warmth that enhances the ginger flavors without overpowering. People often make fun of my grandfatherly love of McCallan on the rocks, but even if you aren't a big whiskey fan, I promise the spirit's presence won't turn you off to this cookie. Similar to using white wine when roasting chicken, the heated whiskey brings depth to its surrounding flavors and softens the saccharine sweetness, rather than delivering an alcoholic punch.
If you choose not to ice your cookies, make sure to dip each dollop of batter into raw or white sugar before baking—they are designed to be frosted with sugar, and thus are not as sweet as a regular cookie on their own.
Iced Whiskey Ginger Cookies, packaged and ready to go!

Iced Whiskey Ginger Cookies (adapted from Half Baked, created by Batch from Scratch)
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1/2 stick Butter
1/4 cup Brown Sugar 
1 T White Sugar 
1 cup Flour
1 Egg
1 T Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1/8 tsp Grated Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 T Fresh Ginger
1 1/2 T Molasses
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 T Whiskey (heated)
1/4 cup Whiskey Soaked Cherries


Whiskey Icing: Confectioner’s Sugar, add Whiskey until desired consistency (about ¾ cup sugar for 1 T whiskey)

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, grated nutmeg & salt.
2. Add the fresh ginger and egg to the butter/sugar mixture, and beat until fully incorporated. Add molasses to butter/sugar, mixing thoroughly.
3. Dissolve baking soda in hot whiskey.
4. Mix half of the dry ingredients into butter/sugar. Beat in baking soda/whiskey mixture, and then add remaining dry ingredients. Stir in whiskey soaked cherries.
5. Refrigerate for 2 hours, then scoop batter in heaping 1-teaspoon portions onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Because the batter is extremely sticky, I recommend coating your fingers lightly in powdered sugar to make the cookie-molding process easier. Space cookies about 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with a spatula. Bake @ 325 for 12 minutes.
6. When cookies have cooled, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and whiskey in a small cup, and ice using a piping bag or clipped plastic bag. 

On the prowl for a sweet holiday gift, or looking to start a cookie swap of your own? Print out this recipe card below and attach it to your treat, so your lucky recipients can share it too!

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