masala chai gingersnaps

masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table

I know cakes generally get a lot more attention than cookies year round but come holiday season, cookies take over the show! In many ways, I feel that they take on their own little personalities, some acquire shapes and sizes, special flavors, and some will bring back fond memories. I used to do a better job of baking a lot of different cookies for Christmas gifts and I've slacked quite a bit this year. So bad that I'm only making gingersnaps, my holiday staple.

Like I said earlier, I don't make cutout cookies every Christmas holiday or nankhatais but I will bake gingersnaps every single year! It's because ginger is by far my favorite spice/ingredient to bake with. I've been known to nibble on spicy little bits of crystallized ginger which is probably too gross of a habit to share publicly but that the sweet zing that comes in every bite is so good!

For this version of gingersnaps cookies, I've used a recipe from my favorite peeps, America's Test Kitchen and made a few changes: I've added some whole wheat flour, flavored it with ground black tea leaves and folded in my masala chai mix. This is one flavorful gingersnap cookie that goes well with a cup of hot tea or coffee and even cocoa. Instead of preparing a tea infusion, I used the tea leaves directly in the form a powder in the cookies to give a more robust flavor.

This year for the holidays, I've partnered with the folks at   America's Test Kitchen to giveaway three of my favorite cookbooks from their store: The Cook's Illustrated Baking BookThe Science of Good Cooking and their latest book, 100 Recipes. These books contain a lot of valuable information and will teach you how to master the basic techniques of cooking and baking at home.All you need to do to win your copy of the books is to leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite holiday baking memory and follow America's Test Kitchen and me on Instagram. The contest will end on December 21st at 12pm and is open to legal residents of the US only. I will randomly pick a winner and announce him/her in a separate post next week. Good luck and happy cooking, folks!

masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these cookies;

  • Freshly ground spices taste best in this recipe, so try to use a freshly made mix of gingersnap cookies.
  • I used a dark Darjeeling tea (orange pekoe leaves). Make sure the powder is super fine, sift it through a strainer if possible.
  • I like sparkling sugar over granulated sugar because it gives a delicious crunchy texture to the cookie. 
masala chai gingersnaps | A Brown Table

masala chai gingersnaps (adapted from Cook's Illustrated: The Baking Book)

yields: 80 cookies

ingredients

1 1/2 cups (180gm) all-purpose flour

1 cup (113gm) whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt

2 teaspoons chai masala mix (see recipe below)

1 1/2 tablespoons darjeeling tea leaves, ground to a fine powder

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup packed crystallized ginger, finely diced

1/2 cup granulated sugar or sparkling sugar

1. Whisk the flours, baking soda, salt, chai masala, and ground tea together in a bowl. Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and the butter starts to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to the bowl of a standmixer, allow to cool for 2 minutes then and add brown sugar, molasses and whisk using the whisk attachment. Add the egg and yolk and whisk until combined on medium-high speed. Now using the paddle attachment, combine the flour mixture and mix until just combined and there are no visible flecks of flour. Fold the crystallized ginger into the cookie dough mixture. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Place oven racks at upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 300F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated/sparkling sugar in a shallow dish or small bowl. Divide the dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls on prepared sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.

3. Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes , transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies on parchment paper, to wire rack to cool completely before serving. Let baking sheets cool and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls. 

 

masala (spice mix) chai mix blend

yields: about 1/4 cup or less

ingredients

6 whole green cardamom pods, crushed

2 black cardamom poda, crushed (optional)

1 inch piece cinnamon stick (optional)

10 black peppercorns, crushed (optional)

6 whole cloves, crushed (optional)

2 tablespoons ginger powder

1. Discard the cardamom pods and place the seeds along with the rest of the ingredients in a small spice grinder or coffee mill. Pulse until you get a fine powder. Store the powder in an airtight container for up to 4 months.

spiced buckwheat molasses cookies

Spiced Buckwheat Molasses Cookies | A Brown Table

I can finally say it, it's time for the holidays and all the baking that comes with it! Granted you can bake at any time of the year but at this time it is extra special because I remember every holiday season that I got to sneak in at the kitchen table and help out my mother, grandmother and aunts when they'd begin their month long holiday cooking that would lead up to Christmas. I'd end up with some awfully shaped marzipans or some distasteful color combinations on cookies so I really don't think I was of much help but the important part was getting to taste everything as it came along. At that age that was all that mattered, feeling big enough to sit with older peeps and feel important enough to participate! Those were some fun times (and as for those hideous edible creations, I'd pass them on to more deserving individuals like my younger sister and cousins).

Spiced Buckwheat Molasses Cookies | A Brown TableSpiced Buckwheat Molasses Cookies | A Brown Table

One of my favorite cookies to prepare during holiday season are molasses cookies. They are simple to prepare but have so many levels of complex of flavors, that make me admire them a lot.  There are also a zillion different ways to prepare molasses cookies and I've been wanting to work on a buckwheat version for a while. Buckwheat and molasses make one delicious combination, they both have earthy flavors and come together rather well in these cookies.

These guys have an additional depth of flavor, I like to add a little bit of black pepper and ginger but this time I've also added a few spice seeds on top of each cookie like I had previously in these turmeric-spiced seed almond cookies . You can leave out the spice seed mix if you want to, the cookies taste great either way!

Spiced Buckwheat Molasses Cookies | A Brown TableSpiced Buckwheat Molasses Cookies | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these cookies that you might find helpful

  • Though I've listed the number of cookies I've made using a fluted pastry wheel/jagger, you can also roll out the dough and use christmas cookie cutters to cut out the shapes you desire. Just remember, the number of cookies will change depending on the size and shape of the cookie cutter. 
  • I liked to roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper that are lightly dusted with buckwheat flour. It allows lifting the cutout cookies onto baking sheets easier. I also like to freeze the cutout cookie dough for at least 30 minutes before transferring them to baking sheets pre-lined with parchment paper.
  • You can choose to skip the spice seeds garnish on the cookies if you want to. I like the extra touch of flavor and crunch.
Spiced Buckwheat Molasses Cookies | A Brown Table

spiced buckwheat molasses cookies 

yields: approximately 50- 2inch X 1inch cookies  

ingredients 

1 1/2 cups (8 3/4 ounces) buckwheat flour + a little extra for rolling out the dough

1/2 cup (2 3/8 ounces) almond flour 

1/2 cup (2 ounces) dark brown sugar + 1 tablespoon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground 

1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seed powder, freshly ground 

1/4 cup dark molasses 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

14 raw pistachios unsalted, chopped

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon flax seeds 

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1. Place the almond flour, buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, ginger, black pepper and cardamom together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment at low speed, mix the dry ingredients for about 2 -3minutes until combined. 

2. Add the molasses, butter, vanilla and egg to the batter and mix the ingredients on medium-low speed for 1 minute, then increase speed to medium-high for about 2 -3 minutes until completely combined. You might need to wipe down the bowl during the mixing process with a silicone spatula to allow all the ingredients to mix together completely. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and form into one single ball of dough. Wrap the cookie dough airtight with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before baking. 

3. In a small bowl mix the pistachio ,fennel, flax and sesame seeds along with the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and keep aside until ready to use. 

4. Unwrap the chilled dough and divide into 4 parts and form each part into a rough square about 6 inches wides on each side. Sprinkle a little buckwheat flour on the surface of a sheet of parchment paper. Place one part of the dough on this floured sheet of parchment paper then sprinkle a little more buckwheat flour on the surface, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and using a rolling pin roll out the dough into a rectangle that is about 0.3 cm thick (you could probably go up to 0.5 cm thick) and around  10inchX 12inch in area. Remove the upper layer of parchment paper. Using a sharp paring knife trim of the extra edges and then using the same knife cut the dough into one inch thick strips across its length. Using a fluted pastry wheel/jagger  cut the dough into 2 inch thick strips on both sides to form squares that are around 2inchX1inch in size. Transfer the cut cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and place them about 1/2 inch apart from each other. (If the cut out cookies are too soft too handle during transfer, freeze the entire tray for about 30-45 minutes until you are ready to transfer it will make it easier to handle).

5. Sprinkle a pinch of the spice seed sugar prepared earlier in the center of each cookie. Press this seasoning gently into the cookie (be careful not to go all the way through the cookie). Refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking (you can also wrap the baking sheet with cling film and freeze overnight until ready to bake). 

6. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Bake one tray at a time for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, rotating the tray halfway through the baking process. The cookies will be light golden brown when done and will be slightly brown on the edges. Remove the baking sheet with the cookies from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Repeat steps 4 to 6 to prepare the rest of the cookies, any unused scraps of cookie dough can be saved and brought together to make additional cookies. Stored cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 3-4 weeks.