Home for the Holidays: Baking Memories with Chewy Ginger Cookies and More
Time to read min
Time to read min
It's hard to believe the holidays are almost here, especially as I write this on a day that looks more like spring than a winter wonderland. But that's okay. Even if the weather's not quite cooperating (I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!), I'm still getting my kitchen into full festive swing.
There's something about baking that gets me in the holiday spirit.
It's the tradition of it, the memories it evokes, the recipes, and the aromas filling the air—it's like a magical transformation in anticipation of December 25th.
My favourite goodies at Christmas are cookies! Shortbread, gingerbread men, chocolate chip, sugar cookies with royal icing, linzer, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate crinkle…the list goes on and on. I haven't met many cookies I didn't like, if you know what I mean!
Here's what I notice…As I'm baking cookies in the oven, and the house fills with that irresistible aroma, it seems to attract my family to the kitchen. “What's that amazing smell?” they ask. It's actually my secret weapon to get everyone in the same room for some holiday cheer, which can be a challenge these days as our boys are now young men.
If we assembled a cookie lineup in our house, then the cookie that would always come up as the winner is the chewy ginger cookie! It crackles in the oven as it bakes and is covered in turbinado sugar that gives it the perfect amount of crunch before you hit the chewy centre. I've been making this cookie since the 1990s when I discovered this recipe in a Christmas cookie magazine. You know the type of magazine I mean—the ones that tempt you as you're checking out at the grocery store!
This recipe is like an old friend. The page of the magazine it is in is so dog-eared and stained from years of baking that you couldn't miss it. I've made changes to it over the years to make it my own, and my hand written comments and notes are in the margins. I've been making these cookies for what seems like forever, and my boys, now taller than me, still insist on having them every Christmas. There's just something about the mix of ginger, cinnamon, and molasses that announces, "The holiday season has arrived!"
When Christmas Eve rolls around, the “goodie plate,” as we refer to it, becomes our holiday sweet feast. We always prefer the goodies on this plate to any tempting dessert. And when company comes over, the goodie plate always makes an appearance, giving everyone an opportunity to bite into a sweet, delicious reminder of cherished traditions and the warmth of the season.
We nibble on those goodies for the next couple of days, savoring the flavors and the memories we've made. It's the kind of simple joy that makes the season feel extra special. As each cookie crumb disappears, it's like savouring a bit of holiday magic, and the shared moments around that goodie plate become the heartwarming snapshots we carry with us for years to come.
In the midst of the holiday hustle, these baking moments keep me grounded. The chewy ginger cookies, along with our other favourites, remind me that the heart of Christmas is in these simple, shared pleasures with the ones we love.
So, whether you're baking up a storm or just enjoying the season's treats, may your holidays be filled with warmth, laughter, and the sweet simplicity that makes this time of year truly special.
1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer on low speed to beat shortening for 30 seconds to soften. Gradually add 2 cups of granulated sugar, beating until well combined and scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Mix in eggs and molasses. Incorporate as much of the flour mixture as possible using the mixer. Use a wooden spoon to stir in any remaining flour mixture.
3. Form the dough into 2-inch balls using 1/4 cup of dough. Roll the balls in 3/4 cup of coarse or granulated sugar. Place them about 2-1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned and puffed. Avoid overbaking to maintain a chewy texture. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Store the cookies in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This recipe yields twenty-five (25) 4-inch cookies.