Every year we have a wonderful tradition of making hundreds of cookies to share with our family, friends and loved ones. This year I started making cookies early for an event The Thyme Garden was participating in: The South Town Art Walk in Corvallis, Oregon.
While we were bringing a lot of our wonderful herbal goodies including body care, coloring books and cards, tea, and spices, I felt one of my truest artistic expressions comes out in the kitchen through my culinary creations. This meant making 3 types of delicious herbal cookies, over 18 dozen in total.
For the varieties, I wanted a range of flavors, colors and texture. First, I chose to make a gluten free Lavender Cookie from our cookbook, More Good Thymes in the Kitchen. It's light and cakey, not too sweet. Almost like a scone, and with just the right amount of lavender.
Second I made another gluten free option, the Apricot-Rosemary Oatmeal cookies. These are inspired by the lovely Sarah Kieffer, from her 100 Cookies cookbook. I dressed them up a little by omitting the dried apricots in the dough and instead filling the cookie with a mix of apricot, jam and lemon zest and finishing with a sprig of rosemary.
The third, Molasses Spice, is a seasonal favorite. The addition of garam masala brings heat from black pepper with exotic flavors of cardamom, cumin and coriander like a breeze in a dessert oasis—and it also simplifies the recipe by covering all the different spices you might add in another gingerbread recipe. The molasses is there in just the right amount, and is a great source of iron so you can almost consider this a health cookie! Lastly, there's fresh ginger for another layer of warmth, all wrapped up in course turbinado sugar for a finished texture that has you coming back for more.
The cookies and all our other offerings were a big hit at the event, and visitors raved over the Molasses Spice cookies. So I figured I'd share the recipe for you to try at home. It's a great one for storing, making gingerbread houses, or even creating ice cream cookies with caramel ice cream between two cookies. I played around with some different options like sesame seeds also. The possibilities are endless!
Molasses Spice Cookie Recipe
1 ½ cups shortening
2 cups sugar
½ cup molasses
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala
4 ½ cups flour
¾ cup coarse sugar for coating
Beat together the shortening and sugar in a big bowl with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides for even mixing. Add molasses and ginger until well combined, then slowly add dry ingredients until dough forms, beginning with spices.
Cover and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350°. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to scoop out 2 oz of dough, rolling into 2-inch balls and coating with coarse sugar.
Bake on parchment lined sheets for 17 minutes or until set in the center.
For a gingerbread house, roll out dough to 1/4 inch on parchment. Cut shapes of house out and remove scraps. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake 7-9 minutes, until just a little brown at the edges. Remove from heat and cool completely before assembling.
Yields 24 huge cookies or 8 dozen small. Easily will make 2-3 gingerbread houses.