Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Filling

February 17, 2009

Dear Nick Malgieri,

I saw your Ginger Sandwich Cookies filled with lemon cream in a recent issue of Food & Wine magazine and decided I’d give them a try.  Although gingersnaps have never been and will never be a cookie I find myself craving, the lemon filling did catch my attention and I thought that with the ginger, the flavor could be exceptional.

Although that did not disappoint, the molasses, on the other hand, gave me pause because the last time I made cookies that had molasses in them, the results were less than appealing until I bent them into submission after much trial and error.

Now I know I’m far from perfect on most days, but I have had a modest amount of experience cooking and baking with great success — thankfully more times than not.  I also use excellent equipment and so cannot blame poor result on either of those factors.

What I’m left with is a question, and I’m asking it of you since this is your recipe and the photograph chosen to illustrate the intended results looks far different than mine — especially my first batch.Ginglemoncook

  • When baking cookies with molasses, is there something I just don’t understand?  What causes them to spread so?  I know sugar in general causes that, and when using molasses, a smaller quantity is needed, as in this recipe which calls for only 1/4 cup.  Could it be the brand of molasses?  I use Grandma’s which is just about the only kind I’ve ever used, and the jar I used for this batch was opened recently.
  • Although keeping a very close eye on the Ginger Sandwich cookies during the required bake time, I realized I needed to remove them from the oven only half way through the expected 20-minute baking time, and even then, the cookies were far too done.  Actually, burnt.
  • I prefer to use convection settings for everything except for recipes with a high quantity of egg, so am used to reducing the heat and cooking time to compensate for that choice. However, because of the previous results, I chose not to use convection heat for this recipe.  On the second batch, again, with only 7 minutes of the baking time elapsed, I had to remove the cookies.

Mr. Malgieri, I know that often, baking is an adventure, and I accept that most of the time.  Because I’m used to reading recipes, I can usually spot one that I think could be problematic, and with this recipe, the cooking time did get my attention.  Cookies rarely bake that long.  Nevertheless, I proceeded like the trusting home cook I am.

I will say your ginger cookies are lovely tasting with a nice bite — chewy, with a pleasant tartness from the lemon cream which blends well with the overall sweetness.  Very, very nice.  I just wish I’d done them justice.  So I’m curious and would enjoy trying these again, but detest wasting food so need some direction.

Did Food & Wine misprint the recipe?  Or am I just someone who should step away from the molasses?

With the utmost respect,
Kelly

p.s.  They stack pretty good though!

Nick Malgieri’s Ginger Sandwich Cookies

For the cookies…
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. +  2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 lg. egg, at room temperature
1/4 c. unsulfured molasses

For the filling…

6 T unsalted butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. In the bowl of a
standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and
sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and
molasses. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until
incorporated, scraping down the bowl.

Working in 2 batches, drop scant tablespoons of the dough onto the
baking sheets, 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, until
risen and fallen and slightly firm; shift the sheets from top to bottom
and front to back halfway through for even baking. Let cool slightly,
then transfer the parchment paper to racks and let the cookies cool
completely.

Bake the remaining cookies.

To make the filling, in the bowl of a
standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with
the confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about
3 minutes then beat in the lemon juice.

Arrange the cookies in pairs on a large work surface. Spoon or pipe
1 rounded tablespoon of the lemon filling onto the flat side of half of
the cookies. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, pressing them
together so the filling spreads to the edge.

IMG_9139

IMG_9169

IMG_9140

Notes:

  • Using a tablespoon, I dropped dough less than the 3″ recommended.  I know.  It’s there for all the world to see on the silicone mat.  But that didn’t have anything to do with the cookies being burnt in only half the baking time.
  • So the second go round I balled the dough hoping for something that didn’t spread so rapidly.  Standing in front of the oven and watching through the glass, I removed the cookies at 7 minutes with some edges still getting ready to burn.
  • As you can see by my results, I desperately need a cookie scooper so that I, too, can have cookies that are EXACTLY the same size.
  • If you have knowledge that I am clearly lacking about any of this, by all means, please let me know.  In fact, I encourage you to try this recipe because the taste is definitely excellent.  I guess I just can’t make cookies that are of the “snap” variety.
  • I did mail these cookies to Breadchick aka Mary of The Sourdough, however, who lives about 3,000 miles from here, so I guess the good news would be that they travel well.  Maybe.  I haven’t seen a photo of the condition they arrived in!

IMG_9123
IMG_9126

Batch 1 and Batch 2: Dropped as directed, and the second time, rolled and increased quantity.  No.  I have no scientific reason for increasing the quantity in Batch 2.

I know. They're burnt, okay?

This is Batch 1:   Fairly uniformly shaped, but at 10 minutes, burnt.  My husband liked them anyway.  Go figure.

And yes, they should be 3" apart before baking.

This is Batch 2:  They’re larger, but I took them out at 7 minutes so managed to save them.  You can see where the edges were beginning to burn.  These were more chewy and not crisp like the first batch.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki February 17, 2009

Call me crazy, but I like a little burnt flavor in my ginger cookies. Especially with lemon cream to balance it. Got any left? Send ‘em to me!

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MyKitchenInHalfCups February 17, 2009

I do love gingersnaps and the filling does seem very appealing . . . but not burned . . . too bad. What I don’t understand is how a recipe can behave so differently for two different cooks.

Reply

Blond Duck February 18, 2009

I’m sorry you had so much trouble with the cookies!

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Caitlin February 18, 2009

Oh, I do love stackable cookies. I’m disappointed they didn’t turn out very smoothly for you though – they look like ones I’d absolutely love.

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grace February 18, 2009

i love your leaning tower of cookies! i’d like to play a jenga-like game with it…and then eat the ones that don’t make it to the end. :)

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DaviMack February 18, 2009

We’ve found that “molasses” is anything BUT uniform. If you’ve had trouble, chalk it up to that.
They look marvelous, though. :)

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Paula February 18, 2009

I love the photo of the leaning tower of cookies. To bad they gave you so much trouble! 20 minutes cook time does seem excessive!!

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Chou February 18, 2009

Kelly–the sugar is playing a part, but more than that, I think there are multiple culprits here. This recipe has a really high sugar content (= easier burning, and you’re right, there’s no way that 20 minutes at 350 would do anything less than make a burnt crisp), and doesn’t include a chill step (= more spread). The butter to flour ratio seems okay in relation to other cookies I’ve worked on like this. There’s a little more molasses, which will give more spread.
Functionally, the molasses is adding sweetness, moisture and chewiness while extending the life of the cookies. If you feel any desire to redo this, try removing 1 Tbsp of the molasses and chilling for at least 60 minutes. You know best on time! Gorgeous tower!

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Sandie February 19, 2009

If and when you receive an answer to your cookie woes, let me know. Though I must say, they sound entirely tempting.

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kellypea February 19, 2009

Hi Vicki — You and my husband both! I didn’t fill the burnt ones — no sense wasting that luscious cream filling. I need to try these again!
Tanna — no kidding. For some reason I’ve run across a recent batch of recipes — all in magazines — that just aren’t what they seem. It’s pretty unusual for me, so I’m a bit annoyed by the whole thing. Do they think people don’t try the recipes?
Hey BD — they still turned out tasty in spite of their less than appealing appearance.
Caitlin, if you try them and they work for you, please tell me your secrets, okay?
grace — I can just see you doing that and grinning the entire time.
DaviMack — thanks for speaking up on this because I’m at the point where if I see molasses in a recipe, I want to avoid it. Sad, because I do like the flavor.
Paula, glad you agree on the time. Really wondering it it’s a typo or something.
Ahhhh Chou. THANKS! I did a bit of reading but my attitude about there being so many other recipes out there keeps pulling me away from trying to see what’s up with a recipe that isn’t working for me. You are so right on the overall quantity of sugar and yep, I’d wondered about the chilling time. I totally appreciate your advice!

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Marjorie February 21, 2009

Any time a cookie spreads like that I have found that adding 1/2 to 1 extra cup of flour makes them behave properly. I know – most people think that is awful advice but IT WORKS!!!!

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peabody February 21, 2009

Add a little extra flour and chill the batter.
I love the lemon filling idea.

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Chou February 24, 2009

She’s a cabbage! Now a sneeze! :)

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breadchick February 25, 2009

Kelly,
I LOVED these cookies! They arrived in fantastic shape and I doled out one a night for almost 2 weeks. I do have pictures too I’ll be posting soon.
Thanks so much for making them part of my cookie package!

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jain February 28, 2009

a thing of beauty and edible, yeah pass me a stack!

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