Thursday, December 31, 2009

Double-Ginger Spice Cookies

I baked all of my usual treats over the holidays this year--sugar cookies, walnut-cardamom balls, snickerdoodles, chocolate-walnut bars. But my favorite was this little ginger snap.

I found a recipe for a spicy little cookie on Epicurious. The recipe called for vegetable shortening, but I was shopping at Whole Foods, and all I could find that might suit was coconut oil, which is solid at temperatures below 76 degrees. I crossed my fingers and tried it. Delicious! The cookies were crisp on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. And the coconut oil added a wonderful, exotic fragrance and flavor to the cookie. One small substitution that had a big impact on the finished product, and a cookie that I will bake again.

Ginger Spice Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulphered molasses

Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Add the chopped crystallized ginger, and stir to coat with the flour mixture. In a mixing bowl, beat the brown sugar, coconut oil, and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just blended. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll the balls lightly in granulated sugar to coat, and place on the cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes until the cookies begin to crackle on top but are still soft.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


I had never heard of lefse until I went to college in Minnesota. Every year at St. Olaf during Christmas Festival, we were treated to a seasonal Norwegian meal that included lefse, gjetost, pickled herring, a warm fruit soup called sotsuppe, a creamy porridge called rommegrot, and the dreaded lutefisk, a dried cod prepared with lye that has the consistency of Jello. Of all these, the lefse was a favorite. A thin flatbread made with boiled potatoes, we ate it slathered with butter, sprinkled with brown sugar, and rolled up like a cigar.

Making lefse requires some special equipment, including a potato ricer, a lefse griddle, a special rolling pin, and a stick for moving the lefse to and from the grill. The trick is to keep as little flour in the dough as possible, while rolling the lefse as thinly as you can. The dough is very tender and tears easily.

With some help from a Minnesotan friend (thank you, Kate!), I found a good recipe for lefse dough and gave it a whirl this morning. My first few pieces were a little raggedy, but I quickly got the hang of it, and the last batch turned out actually quite good. In addition to the butter and sugar version, I think these would be lovely with a bit of cream cheese and smoked salmon. Looking forward to sharing this unique seasonal food with friends and family.


Prepare dough a day ahead.

5 cups of boiled Idaho potatoes, riced
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt

Mix together and chill overnight.

To prepare lefse, preheat griddle to 500 degrees.

Take 2 cups of the potato mixture and mix in a scant 1/2 cup flour. (Put the rest of the dough back in the refrigerator, it needs to stay cold)

Sprinkle your workspace with a generous amount of flour. Make fist-sized balls of dough - or smaller - and roll each ball out thinly. Slide the lefse stick under the rolled-out dough, and gently slide it back and forth to ensure that it is not stuck to your work surface. Slide the stick down the middle of the dough, and transfer it to the the preheated griddle. It's best to slide one side down onto the griddle, and then rotate the stick to drop the other side onto the griddle.

Cook until slightly browned; flip to the other side and cook until done.

Place between clean kitchen towels to cool. When all are cooled, fold and package in Ziploc bags. Lefse freezes well.