Old habits die hard, my friends: they die really hard. I had a more difficult time settling into relaxation this weekend. My mind and spirit were tentative, like this whole Week of Me thing was a trick, a scam! I did manage to do a number of things that are on my List of Luxuries, but I must confess that I still felt a sense of guilt gnawing at me because I didn’t end up unpacking any boxes around the house this weekend. Not even one!!
Maybe I couldn’t unwind because ‘the weekend’ is normally when I do chores and errands and things like that. Maybe now that it’s Monday again and I’m not at my workplace, I will magically resort back to the carefree and opulent lifestyle I picture in my mind when I think about totally unwinding. (Imagine that last part is written in loopy cursive and not in italics. It’s supposed to be all breathy and seductive, not urgent or alarming.)
In the meantime, guess what I did end up doing this weekend? I BAKED COOKIES!!! This is exciting for a number of reasons, the most poignant of which (given our recent oven-from-hell history) is that the oven is clean enough to bake in! Huzzah for non-nasty ovens!
I’ve had a hankering for soft ginger molasses cookies lately, and the ones I ended up baking last night are really delicious! Plus, I went really over the top and made Marty’s cookies Ginger Creams (a dairy extravaganza!), so it was a great evening at Chez Packed Full of Boxes. Here is the recipe I used (based on the Big Soft Ginger Cookies recipe from Allrecipes.com, but modified to accommodate the ingredients I had/didn’t have on hand, plus modified again to add cream cheese icing to Marty’s cookies.)
Ginger Cookies/Ginger Creams
(full of non-vegan, glutinous, wheaty, and sugary ingredients!)
You will need:
1 cup whole grain pastry flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2-3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened butter (or Earth Balance for non-dairy fiends like myself)
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tbsp orange juice (or water)
1/4 to 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (I swear I can eat this stuff straight from the jar)
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
For the cream cheese icing:
1 brick of full-fat cream cheese, softened (if you are making cream cheese icing in the first place, why not go all the way, I say?)
3-4 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
1 cup (ish) of icing sugar, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla
How to make the cookies:
1. Stir the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix butter and brown sugar together until creamy. Beat in the egg and stir in orange juice/water and molasses.
3. Gradually stir dry ingredients into the molasses mixture.
4. Chill batter in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. (Otherwise, it is too sticky to make into balls.)
5. Preheat the oven for 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
6. Shape cookie batter into walnut sized balls. Roll balls into the 2 tbsp of white sugar before putting on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cookies should be placed approx. 2 inches apart and flattened down from balls into actual cookie shapes. (If they are not flattened enough, you will be baking balls and not cookies. Trust me on this one.)
7. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Keep cookies on the sheet for five minutes after removing from oven, and then allow to cool on a wire rack afterward.
How to make the cream cheese icing:
1. In a small saucepan, heat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at a very low temperature, stirring constantly. (I usually toss a big brick of cream cheese into a pot and mash/stir it until it starts to melt and become creamy.)
2. When the whole mixture is smooth and velvety, gradually add in icing sugar to taste. Do not add too much icing sugar, or the icing will become dry and sticky.
3. Add in 1-2 tbsp of water if needed to achieve a smooth consistency.
4. Remove icing from heat and spread in between two ginger cookies to make ginger creams.
(Note: During my dairy days, I used this icing on everything: chocolate cakes, carrot cakes, all sorts of cupcakes, in between chocolate cookies to make a mean ‘Oreo’ cookie, and in between ginger cookies to get the ginger creams. This icing is TO DIE FOR, and if I were still eating dairy, I would not hesitate to eat it plain by the spoonful. It is SO delicious! You can also add things like lemon to it if you are wanting a bit more zest, so to speak. Try it, my dairy-loving friends: you will love it, I promise!)