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There’s a place near my office called Cafe Yumm.  Somewhat ridiculous name aside, they have what must be the Most Perfect Lunches.  It’s not because Cafe Yumm is amazing fine dining, it’s rather because (I am fairly certain) they put crack in their “Yumm Sauce,” which goes in every bowl of perfectly proportioned space food they serve.  They also have gigantic ginger cookies dipped in Euphoria chocolate that are so packed full of ginger and molasses that you feel like you got punched right in the kisser every time you eat one.  I probably ate three or four of those cookies before I finally noticed on the menu that…they’re made with oat flour and hence are gluten-free. 

Shock shock horror horror shock shock horror! I had (not once, but multiple times) eaten something that was gluten-free, and liked it?!?!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for gluten-free if you actually have an allergy to gluten, but I think people that stuff copious amounts of gluten-free food into their gullets because “it’s healthy!” (hey, news flash, it’s not healthy to eat a ton of anything) are absolutely ridiculous.  And, as my faithful followers know, I vowed from day one of this blog to never make anything gluten-free.

Regardless, it wasn’t long after I realized Cafe Yumm’s ginger cookies were made with oat flour that I found myself at the store purchasing a bag of Bob’s Red Mill oat flour with plans of recreating them at home, although perhaps smaller than head-sized.

And then I screwed up, forgot to use the oat flour, and made them with regular flour instead.

I was just about to add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture when I realized what I had done.  Rather than despair, I called on my scientist past to make a Baking Experiment: Make a batch with regular flour, and make a batch with oat flour and turbinado sugar.

Turbinado sugar, or “sugar in the raw,” is somewhere inbetween refined white sugar and brown sugar.  The grains are larger than white sugar, and it retains some of its natural molasses, so it carries a molasses-y flavor that most brown sugar available today (which has the molasses removed during processing) just doesn’t have.  For the ginger-forward, heavy molasses flavor I was looking for with these cookies, subbing out the white sugar for turbinado sugar just made sense–even if turbinado sugar is usually used to replace brown, not white, sugar.  The result:

This baking experiment taught me an important lesson: Never judge a cookie by its cover.  The white sugar/regular flour cookies are beautiful, and they are tasty…but the turbinado sugar/oat flour cookies have a certain complexity to their flavor profile and a texture that, in my humble opinion, makes them far superior.

Ultimately, the recipe you decide to go with depends in large part on your personal preferences.  I’ve included the ingredients for both the regular and the amped-up versions in the recipe below, with the ingredients for the turbinado sugar-based cookies in brackets.  Experiment, make it your own, and enjoy!

Soft Ginger Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour [2 1/4 cups oat flour]
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger [same]
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda [same]
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon [same]
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom [same]
  • 15-25 whole cloves [same]
  • 3 crystals of crystallized ginger [same]
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt [same]
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened [same]
  • 1 cup white sugar [1 cup turbinado sugar]
  • 1 egg [same]
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice [same]
  • 1/4 cup molasses [same]
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar [same]

Cream together the butter and cup of sugar till light and fluffy.  I like to use my stand mixer so while the butter and sugar are creaming I can sift together the dry ingredients (next paragraph).  Add the egg and beat until fluffy, then add the molasses and orange juice and mix until well blended.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, ground spices, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  In a clean coffee grinder, grind together the whole cloves and the crystallized ginger until both are finely ground.  Add the clove and crystallized ginger mixture to the flour and spice mixture and mix well.

Slowly add the flour mixture and spice mixture to the molasses mixture, mixing well.  When the dough is finished, place in the fridge for at least an hour.  [I recommend a few hours if you’re making the oat flour/turbinado sugar cookies because for some reason that dough takes significantly longer to set.]  After the dough has chilled, roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in the two tablespoons of white sugar.  Place the balls on a cookie sheet two inches apart and lightly flatten.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes (I had to bake for the full 10, as they were underbaked at 9 minutes, but this will depend on your oven).

This recipe makes delicious large, soft ginger cookies, no matter which recipe you go with.  Enjoy!

-Adapted from “Big Soft Ginger Cookies.”