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.

peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap cookie crust pie

peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table

One of my favorite parts about working in the city is working close to the Williams-Sonoma store by Union Square and during the holidays, it's a fun time because the store overlooks the tall Christmas tree in the square that's lit from top to bottom. Sadly, the founder Chuck Williams who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, passed away over the weekend. He was one of the early pioneers in the food industry, who traveled around the globe to find quality kitchen tools that we are now accustomed to and love. He helped make our cooking experiences richer and even more exciting by researching and introducing new kitchen tools and appliances, he will be missed!

Two layers, one dark and one white and embedded in it, a layer of red and white stripes. Peppermint bark, you're the best! Though, I have many holiday desserts that are favorites, peppermint is on my list and this one from Williams-Sonoma is probably one of the best I've tasted in a while. The chocolates (white and dark) are both smooth, the peppermint is cool and doesn't get sticky by absorbing moisture from air. Consequently, it's quickly become a part of my arsenal when it comes to pimping up my holiday desserts. This time, when I decided to make a holiday dessert with the peppermint bark, I knew it should involve pie and ice cream because holiday ice creams are a special category in themselves. But an ice cream pie is well, pie made better especially if it's all that ice cream is loaded up in a gingersnap crust!

I keep a small pot of peppermint growing and even though I've had it for over a year, I have to say, I'm almost a little ashamed that I've done absolutely nothing with it until now. Fresh peppermint makes amazing ice cream, it's one of the strongest infusions that's sweet but not harsh. So always try to keep some growing if you can!

I've adapted the basic ice cream recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams while the cookie pie crust recipe is one that I adapted from King Arthur.

peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this ice cream pie,

  • Waterproofing the pie crust by brushing with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of melted white chocolate can help to protect the crust from getting too soggy (I didn't do it this time).
  • The ice cream should be soft and pliable to work with.
  • Use your favorite gingersnaps, however, I will recommend skipping those that contain chunks of ginger as it might be overwhelming when it comes to balancing the flavors of the dessert.
  • I use fresh peppermint leaves but you can also use add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (edible grade) to the ice cream base once it is chilled.
peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie | A Brown Table

peppermint white chocolate ice cream and gingersnap crust pie

peppermint white chocolate ice cream

yields: 1 quart

ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh peppermint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons plain full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup peppermint bark, chopped1. Place all the ingredients from the milk to the white chocolate in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high heat. Bring the contents to a rolling boil and cook for 3 minutes with constant stirring, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

2. While the contents of the saucepan are simmering, quickly whisk the cornstarch and water in a small mixing bowl. Increase the heat to medium-high and quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry, allow the mixture to boil for about 2 minutes with constant stirring until it thickens and acquires a thick custard like consistency. Remove from stove and pass the liquid through a strainer to remove any peppermint leaves and clumps.

3. Whisk the hot ice cream base slowly into a large bowl containing the cream cheese and whisk until smooth and completely combined.  Transfer the ice cream base to a gallon ziploc bag and keep it in an ice cold water bath. Prepare the ice cream using the chilled ice cream base by following your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions. Fold the chopped peppermint bark in to the prepared ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer proof airtight container and freeze until ready to use. 

gingersnap cookie crust pie

ingredients

yields: one 9" crust

260gm gingersnap cookies

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + a little extra to grease the pie pan

2 tablespoons fine-grain sugar

1/2 cup peppermint bark, finely chopped

1. Place a wire rack at mid-level in the oven and preheat to 350F. 

2. Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse for about 20 seconds, four times until you get a fine powder. Transfer the powder to medium size mixing bowl.

3. Using a silicone spatula mix in the melted butter and sugar to form a "dough".

4. Lightly grease a 9" oven and freezer safe baking pan with the extra butter. Line the base of the pan with a circle of parchment paper cut to size. Transfer the cookie "dough" to the pan and press it gently with your fingers pushing it gently to coat and cover the pan. Level the edges of the crust with a small offset spatula. 

5. Bake the pie crust in a preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until you can just smell the gingersnap cookies. Remove the baked pie crust from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Wrap the crust in the pie pan carefully and freeze for at least 2 hours before using. 

6. When ready to assemble, soften the peppermint white chocolate ice cream in the refrigerator for about 30minutes. Unwrap the pie and transfer the ice cream, flatten it out using an offset-spatula. Freeze the pie for one hour. Decorate the outer edge of the pie with the chopped peppermint bark by sprinkling it to form a circular border that's around 1 inch in width. Wrap the pie and freeze for at least 2 hours until firm. Cut the pie using a warm and sharp serrated knife.

Note: A huge thank you to Williams-Sonoma for sponsoring this post as part of their #BarkYeah campaign. All opinions expressed are purely my own. 

You can find most of the products I used in this post at Williams-Sonoma: Cuisinart Ice Cream maker , Offset Spatualas, Christmas Dessert plates ,and All Clad Saucepans