Chewy Chocolate Ginger-Spice Cookies

Sometimes a night in with friends is what you need. Ideally, these sorts of gatherings should involve a plethora of mini sandwiches and spiked libations…maybe even a little illicit cross-stich art for good measure. Hopefully, a kitchen dance party will erupt, followed by girl-talk, then more dancing. Sometimes that is exactly what you need to remind you that good times are to be had…even if you go to bed with the threat of a headache and need an evening nap the next day, it’s still a breath of fresh air and totally worth it.

Sometimes you just need all of that, but, sometimes in a pinch a cookie will do.

These cookies are an ultra-spiced, chewy, chocolate delight. Cocoa and shards of chocolate add depth and smooth richness. A gang of spices, plus candied ginger, add heat and excitement. Sparkly and fragrant cinnamon sugar bring crunch and texture to the party. These sweetly-spiced cookies are similar to one of my favorites, but with an added layer of depth from the cocoa. The combination of spices in this cookie is pretty bold and literally spicy–these are not for the shy, but perfect for the adventurous and brave.

Chewy Chocolate Ginger-Spice Cookies

Makes 24-30 cookies.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

The dough for these chewy gems has to be chilled before baking and I would suggest placing the remaining dough in the refrigerator between batches, as well. Also, there are two forms of chocolate in this cookie, as well as three incarnations of ginger, PLUS cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and black pepper. One could dial back the spices, but I think these cookies are made different because of the boldness of the spices. As always, I encourage you to make these your own, so if super spiced baked goods aren’t your game, then definitely begin by reducing each spice by half. These cookies are great for cookie jars and will keep at room temperature for several days. 

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh, grated ginger

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground, dried ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground, black pepper

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

pinch of salt (scant 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 cup chopped, candied ginger

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon, for rolling

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar until creamy and combined well. Add the fresh ginger, molasses, and vanilla, mix to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, nutmeg, and salt.  Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and pulse until just combined. Fold in the candied ginger and chopped chocolate. Cover and chill the dough for at least 2 hours, or until very firm.

Preheat oven to 325*F and line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Scoop dough (I used a 1 1/2 inch disher/levered scoop) into rounds and roll into a ball. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar and place on baking sheets spaced about 1-2 inches apart–as the cookies will spread. Working with 1 sheet at a time, flatten the top of each cookie and chill for 10 minutes before baking in the center of the oven for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the sheet pan about 10 minutes before placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.



Cinnamon-Sugar Bread Pudding & a Giveaway!

Bread pudding is one of those old-school, throwback desserts. At it’s simplest: old bread, milk, eggs, sugar.

At it’s most decadent, bread pudding could contain any number of additions–nuts, chocolate, fruit, spices–and could be enriched even further with cream and butter. It has a revered place in the recipe repertoire of so many grandmothers, and always seems to be welcomed with great anticipation and eager appetites. Which is really no surprise, as bread pudding is nostaligic, homespun, resourceful, and–for some–the epitome of comfort.

Confession. Before I started baking, I hated bread pudding. I thought it was too eggy and too raisin-y. I just didn’t believe. It wasn’t until I started making bread pudding, 3 days a week, at a bakery I was working at that I realized…bread pudding is kind of like french toast.


With that idea rolling around in my head I decided that I would make a cinnamon-toast version. Let me just say, it was a really good decision. The top of the pudding gets this crunchy, oven baked crust that just cannot be replicated on the stovetop. It’s cinnamon-sugar ultra-toast…the crunchy goodness of my dreams. The interior is soft and pillowy from the silky custard soaked bread…if I could I would take a nap in it. It smells and tastes like fancy breakfast. The kind of thing you might find at a holiday brunch all warm and burnished from the oven. It reheats like a gem and does not suffer from a drizzle of maple syrup or even a splash of heavy cream. People, I have been converted.

To celebrate my new-found bread pudding love, I’m doing a giveaway!

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coconut ice cream pie!

So, this pie. This pie will rock your socks off. I loved it. The lucky friends I shared it with loved it. Four of us ate the whole thing in under 2o minutes. We’re wild like that.

I made this amazing pie for the 4th of July. Sean and I made plans with our friends Jackie and Danny to have a Independence-Day-Grill-Fest! We figured BBQ chicken, corn, cornbread, and potato salad were all quintessentially Americana, and as per usual, I made dessert. Jackie told me it had to be something that screamed “USA!” So, I instantly began thinking about pies…peach pie, cherry, berry, and cream. Each pie was rejected because, well, it’s like hell in my kitchen in the summertime and pastry dough and the oven on for extended periods of time sounded nightmarish. Then, i started thinking about cold pies, with cookie crusts and custardy fillings. Which led me to think of my mom’s ice cream pie, which in turn led me to thoughts of an ice cream-cream pie hybrid!

So, here’s the breakdown: cinnamon toast crumb crust + toasted coconut ice cream + whipped cream + coconut shavings = delicious!

Can i just say, cinnamon toast crumbs…where have you been all my life?! Best crumbs ever…EVER!

listening to: january wedding: the avett brothers

(thanks to Hannah from Honey & Jam for introducing me to this song!! Makes my heart swoon!)

Since the pie was such a delicious success and since it was fairly easy to assemble (you could totally cheat and use a store-bought crust and ice cream), I have many more ice cream pie concoctions and ideas rolling around in my head…like mini mud pies, strawberry ice cream pie, grasshopper ice cream pie…it’s endless :)

Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust

Adapted from Momofuku for 2

I used leftover challah buns from Trader Joes. I think you could use any bread that you want. I did have to use the oven for the crust, but not for too long and since this recipe is largely assembly, I was able to do all my baking after the sun went down.

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

2 Tablespoons sugar

Large-ish pinch of cinnamon

Small pinch of salt

1 cup cubed bread

Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of the butter, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until golden brown and toasty.

Remove toast cubes from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, place cubes into a food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and pulse until combined. Press crust into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or spring form pan.

Place back into a 350F oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. Cool completely before filling (if filling with ice cream, freeze the crust for about 15 minutes after cooling and before filling).

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

I think it is important to seek out unsweetened coconut for this, the sweetened kind would make the recipe far too sugary. I found desiccated, unsweetened coconut in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. I have seen it in the bulk sections of other well-stocked grocers as well. Also, I used evaporated cane sugar with great results.

1 ½ cups desiccated coconut, unsweetened

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

5 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon bourbon

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, stir frequently to toast evenly, until golden-brown and fragrant.

In a medium saucepan warm milk, 1 cup of the cream, sugar, salt, and toasted coconut. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the saucepan and throw in the pod as well. Cover, remove from heat, and steep 30-60 minutes.

Re-warm coconut mixture on the stove. Set a fine mesh strainer over another medium saucepan and strain the coconut infused liquid into the saucepan. Press down on coconut firmly to extract all the goodness. Discard coconut solids.

Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl and set the mesh strainer over the bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm coconut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the custard back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom and sides as you stir until the mixture is thick and coats the back of the spoon. Pour the custard into the strainer and mix with the cream. Stir in the bourbon and stir over and ice bath until cool. Chill the custard in the refrigerator until completely chilled. Process in ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions.

Assembling your ice cream pie!

Spread freshly churned ice cream (because it’s already like soft -serve at this point, smooth and spreadable!) into prepared pie shell, cover with plastic and freeze until solid. Before serving remove from the freezer for 10 minutes or so to defrost slightly for easy serving. This is a good time to whip up some heavy cream and toast up some large flakes of coconut for garnish.  Top with the whipped cream and a healthy sprinkling of coconut and serve! yumyum!