A Christmas must-have . . . leading to cookies

Actually, I think crystallized ginger is a year-round must-have. But I want to make these great dark chocolate ginger cookies this afternoon, so making crystallized ginger last night was important.

Of course, if you have a convenient place to buy crystallized ginger, that’s fine. But if you don’t, then this is very easy. Plus, as a perk, you also get about two cups of blazingly good ginger syrup, which you can stir into drinks or drizzle over gingerbread or apple cake or whatever you like. Pumpkin-pecan pancakes are pretty tasty with ginger syrup. Whatever.

So, crystallized ginger:

1 lb (or so) ginger roots
3 C (or so) sugar
3 C (or so) water

Peel the ginger. Slice about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. I suggest lengthwise slices, which lie better on wire racks later.

Place the ginger in a pan and add equal amounts of sugar and water until the ginger slices are covered. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and boil gently for, oh, about an hour and fifteen minutes, until the sugar syrup reaches 220 degrees. It seriously does take well over an hour for the temp to come up that last little bit, so there’s no point sitting there watching the candy thermometer. Just get a gentle boil going and set the timer for an hour and go do other things for a while.

Once the syrup reaches 220 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and let the ginger just sit there in the syrup until it is cool. I just left mine overnight.

When the syrup is cool, pour the ginger through a strainer, into a bowl so you keep the syrup. You will have about two cups of syrup. Pour this into a jar and stick it in the fridge, where it will last basically forever. Though if you wait long enough, it may start to crystallize.

Anyway, toss the ginger slices with sugar. Then lay the slices out in a single layer on wire racks and let them sit out all day or overnight. Then pack them into a container. I store these in the fridge because I once had a batch mold.

Now that you have plenty of crystallized ginger, you really should try these cookies, even if you are suspicious of the combination of dark chocolate and ginger. They are superb.

2 3/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C cocoa
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 C butter, softened
3/4 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 C molasses
2/3 C buttermilk
1/2 C chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/2 C semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and molasses. Beat in the buttermilk. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the crystallized ginger and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded Tbsp on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Try not to overbake. Cool 2 minutes on the pans. Remove to racks to finish cooling.

If you like, make sandwich cookies with this filling:

6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 C powdered sugar
1/2 C minced crystallized ginger


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