If you make one type of cookie this holiday season, let it be brown butter ginger cookies. Out of all of the cookies I have made all year, these are my favorites and the ones I have made the most often, which is crazy, since I just started making them in November. The name aptly describes them – you can clearly taste both the brown butter and the ginger, but neither overpowers the other. Ah-mazing.
Brown butter makes your whole kitchen smell glorious, and the deep, nutty flavor penetrates each bite. The dusting of sugar that coats each dough ball bakes into a sparkly pillow. All of that combined with ginger and cardamom, these cookies are soft, warm, and so flavorful. They are so delicious that I can never stop at just one.
In the past few weeks I have brought these to family gatherings and work potlucks and have heard raves each time. While they look like gingersnaps, they are so much better!
Since they require brown butter, which adds a step to the cookie making process, I make the process easier by browning the butter one night, letting the brown butter cool throughout the evening, and making the dough the next night. Don’t let brown butter stop you from trying these! You can definitely make these in the span of a few hours (especially if you speed up the cooling in the fridge), and I have done that a few times, but sometimes it is easier to only devote a little bit of time in two chunks, instead of a longer amount of time once, with dead time in the middle. If you have a day when you do all (or most) of your holiday baking, brown the butter at the beginning, continue with the other recipes, and come back to it when you are done with the other things on your list. The extra time is worth it!
Drop the rest of your holiday baking pans and whip up a batch of these for everyone you know.
Brown Butter Ginger Cookies
¾ cups butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup molasses
2 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar, for rolling
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it is medium-brown. You will notice the bubbling will stop and it will smell nutty. This should take between 5-10 minutes. Remove the butter from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. To speed up this process, pour the browned butter into a shallow bowl and refrigerate for a bit. It is okay to use if the outside is firm and the inside is liquid.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl after 2 minutes. Add in the molasses and egg and mix to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter mixture. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the sugar into a bowl. Scoop or roll chilled cookie dough into 2 teaspoon to 1 ½ tablespoon-sized balls and roll them in sugar. I like the 2 teaspoon size (I use the small cookie scoop), but the 1 ½ tablespoon gives you even more of that chewy center. Place the dough balls 2-inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes for the small cookie dough balls, or 12-15 minutes for the larger dough balls. They will still look like they are not quite done when you take them out. Don’t bake them until they look done, otherwise the edges and the base will get harder.
Barely adapted from Bake from Scratch Holiday Cookies magazine.