This past year has been filled with many extraordinary experiences for the Baked Chicago blog, from publishing my first cookbook to winning grand prize in the State of Louisiana’s Sweet Potato Recipe Contest. And participating in the 3rd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap ranks right up there among them all because so many passionate food bloggers came together to support a great cause and to spread some baking love around the world.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap brings together food bloggers from all over the world in celebration of all things cookie. This is my first year participating; last year the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap had nearly 600 participants and raised $4,400. For 2013, there were 619 confirmed participants in 8 countries, and together with our phenomenal partners (OXO, Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour and Grandma’s Molasses) we raised over $13,000 for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.
The premise is simple: bake 3 dozen cookies using a new recipe that you’ve not tried before. You’re matched up with three other food bloggers to whom you’ll send one dozen cookies. The food bloggers get to stretch their creative muscles by trying out a new recipe and in return get one dozen cookies from three other food bloggers. In the process of learning and sharing, you also get to know (perhaps for the first time) three other incredible food bloggers who share you passion for baking and blogging.
I found my inspiration for my cookie recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. I’ve done crunchy gingersnap and molasses cookie recipes galore, but (to my surprise) I’ve never done a soft-based gingersnap molasses cookie. When I got Sally’s recipe for soft-baked gingersnap molasses cookies 4-ways, I had to try it – giving it my own stamp of individuality with some of my favorite cookie garnishes. I decided to do the recipe three ways:
This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies. If you don’t need that many, simply halve all of the ingredients to get about 2 1/2 dozen cookies. I recommend getting all of your ingredients in place, measured first to make execution easy and seamless. You’ll want to work with the dough chilled to make it easier to shape and manipulate. And you’ll want to work quickly when adding toppings after the baking process because you want the heat of the cookies fresh out of the oven to melt the chocolate.
Start by whisking together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer. Then add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla, beating well. Slowly add dry ingredients, on low-speed. DO NOT OVERMIX. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Using a cookie scoop for consistent cookie sizing, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll cookie balls in granulated sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets and flatten with your thumb, leaving a slight indentation.
Bake one sheet of cookies at a time for about 12 minutes, or until edges are brown. Cookies will be puffy and appear soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and immediately press four chocolate chips into the center of the cookie and allow them to melt.
After a few minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. With the back of a teaspoon, smooth out the melted chocolate. Add one heaping teaspoon of the granola on top of the melted chocolate. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl, as needed. Add the molasses, egg and vanilla. Beat well.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, on low speed. Be careful not to overmix. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (and up to overnight).
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Take cookie dough out of refrigerator. Shape the cookie dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. I use a cookie scoop for consistent cookie sizing. Roll the cookie balls in granulated sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Lightly flatten cookies with your thumb, leaving a slight indentation to hold topping (applied after baking).
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until edges are just turning brown. The cookies will be puffy and appear soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and immediately add topping(s), as desired. Press 4 chocolate chips into the center of the cookie and allow to melt.
After a few minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. At this point, take a teaspoon and use the back of the spoon to smooth out the melted chocolate. Add about 1 heaping teaspoon of the granola, if desired, on top of the melted chocolate.
Store in an airtight container for about one week at room temperature.
Adapted from a recipe by Sally's Baking Addiction