Ginger Molasses Sandwich Cookies

Ginger Molasses Sandwich Cookies
From Fried Chicken and Champagne by Lisa Dupar 

Do yourself a favor and make these cookies.  Today.  I know, I know, you’re busy, Christmas is in 3 days, you’re cookied-out.  Too bad.  If you want to amaze your Christmas dinner guests, you must serve these cookies.  I wish I had known about this recipe earlier in the season, but I just made them on Thursday for my book club.  They come from a beautiful cookbook that arrived at my doorstep last week courtesy of one of my best friends, Nora.  She lives in Seattle, where the author has a restaurant, and sent me an autographed copy as a graduation/Christmas present.  I was all prepared to make my lovely molasses cookies for book club, but as soon as I saw this recipe I was sold.  Ever since childhood I’ve had a huge soft spot for Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies.  Nothing made me more excited about my brown-bag lunch than the discovery of one of these soft, creamy disks of heaven hidden below my bologna, cheese and butter sandwich (God bless the 90’s.  I imagine kids these days are packing hummus, cucumber and hormone-free, humanely raised turkey sandwiches, but give me Oscar Mayer any day!).  Anyhow, enter 2012 and a Masters Degree in Nutrition and I’m painfully aware of the artery destroying trans-fat in these and all mysteriously shelf-stable baked goods taunting me on the shelves of Jewel.  Sometimes I just stand in the aisle and stare at the boxes, conjuring up memories of days of innocence, enjoying my trans-fat at a cafeteria table in the suburbs.  Laughing.  Smiling.  Happy.  Ahhh, the good old days.

Well, problem solved!  These puppies have a nearly identical texture, as far as I can remember, to the famed cream pie.  The cookie is oh-so-soft, but slightly chewy, and the filling is cream cheese frosting – enough said.  They key is to wait to frost the cookies until the day you are serving them so that they keep their chewy bite.  I imagine some form of factory-made chemical could fix this problem, but I think I can live with a little extra work if it means all natural cream pies any day I want!

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
  • 2 1/4 cups pastry flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour because that’s all Whole Foods had in the bulk containers – absolutely no negative impact was detected)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl whip butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the white sugar using a stand mixer or hand mixer until creamy and smooth.
  2. Add the egg, molasses, honey, vanilla extract and fresh ginger and continue to mix until smooth.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix one more minute.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon, baking soda, powdered ginger, cloves, nutmeg and pepper.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-molasses mixture and mix well, scraping down the bowl as you go.
  6. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour, or ideally overnight.
  7. Roll dough into an even number of 1-inch balls – I ended up with 44, the original recipe says it makes 50-60, which would probably result in more reasonably sized sandwiches.  Refrigerate balls until ready to bake.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Roll the dough balls in the sugar mixture and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Take my word for it and do this in THREE batches.  I tried doing two and they turned into a bit of a cookie cake.  This dough spreads out.  A lot.
  10. Bake 10-12 minutes, until slightly crackly on top.  Allow to cool.
  11. To make the frosting, use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.  Store in the fridge until ready to use.
  12. To assemble, spread frosting on half of the cooled cookies (if the frosting was in the fridge, let it come to room temp before spreading it).  Top with another cookie. Word to the wise, don’t make them into sandwiches until the day you are serving them.  The cookies store really well on their own, but after a night in sandwich form they got kind of soggy.  Still very much edible and delicious, but not as good as the first day.

Makes 22-30 cookie sandwiches.

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