Honey is a tricky thing to use in baked goods. Unlike granulated sugar, it’s comprised primarily of fructose rather than glucose, which means that it cannot be easily substituted for regular sugar in a recipe. It’s also much sweeter by weight than traditional sugar, allowing for an enhanced Maillard reaction when cooking. The Maillard reaction is when carbohydrates in food caramelize and brown when heated, allowing for the development of flavorful compounds. This is good in moderation, but it can also lead to a burnt birthday cake.
The good news is, when honey is used properly in a recipe, the results are phenomenal. The viscous liquid allows ingredients to be slowly steeped into the honey so that their flavors permeate every bite of the finished product.
In these Honey Ginger Cookies, freshly grated ginger is simmered in honey, then whipped into a sugar cookie dough. The spicy sweetness of the ginger pairs excellently with the floral essences of the honey, and the result is almost like a glass of iced ginger tea in cookie form.
When baking with fresh ginger, you have to be sure to grate it finely so that it’s evenly distributed. Grating fresh ginger can be somewhat of a headache, but you can avoid the whole situation by storing your ginger in the freezer. This preserves the ginger for many months at a time, which is ideal when you bought a 6 inch piece of ginger root only to use 1 teaspoon and find you don’t know what to do with the remainder. Also, frozen ginger is much firmer than ginger kept at room temperature, so when grated, you don’t have to deal with fibrous ends mushing everywhere into the grater and never actually producing a pile of grated ginger.
The rest of the cookies are simple, consisting mainly of butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and leaveners, so that the focus is kept on the honey and ginger. The honey gives them both a chewy and cake-like texture, giving them universal appeal.
The adaptability of these cookies allows them to be the perfect tea companions, while also being excellent study buddies for Finals Week.
Interested in trying these cookies? Just like my page, “Kinsey Cooks,” on Facebook, or leave a comment on this post about your favorite food. If you happen to see me on Tuesday, May 28, I’ll give you one of these Honey Ginger Cookies (while supplies last).
Honey Ginger Cookies
Makes 6 dozen small cookies
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling the cookies
1/4 cup milk
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small skillet over medium heat, combine the honey and ginger, and bring to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly add the honey and ginger and mix to combine.
5. Add the eggs and milk and beat on medium speed until well combined.
6. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the mixer and mix on low until just combined.
7. Scoop the dough into 1 tablespoon sized portions and roll them in the remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar. Place them on the baking sheet, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.