Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Gingerbread

This is one of the few recipes I can claim as truly my own. I used to make a chocolate-gingerbread cookie from a Martha Stewart recipe but they were never quite what I envisioned. Both my mom and I noticed the cookies never came out the same way twice, something was always slightly off.

So I went through other cookie recipes, tinkered around, and last year I hit on the perfect recipe for chewy chocolate cookies with the heat of ginger which are the pure essence of Christmas. I love them. I hope you do too.

Suanne's Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (please use Hershey's Special Dark because it is superior)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger (heaping if you like it spicy)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 oz melted bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger (either fresh ginger peeled and grated, or bottled pressed ginger which is what I do because grating ginger is a pain in the ass.)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa, or, as I explained earlier, go fetch your ziplock bag labeled "Chocolate Gingerbread" with the pre-measured dry ingredients. Oh my God, you are SO ORGANIZED! I hate you.

In the electric mixer, cream the butter and pressed ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes, and by the way I personally make that a generous tablespoon of ginger. Add the white and brown sugar and beat until combined, then add eggs, followed by flour mixture and chocolate chips (if using).

Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, seal and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (Or freeze.  Thaw frozen dough in fridge overnight)

Heat oven to 325. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake until the surfaces start to crack, about 13-15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks.

These are at their absolute best right out of the oven while the chocolate is still gooey, with a big glass of milk. Once cooled and stored, they are ever so slightly less divine, but still pretty f'ing good. I always wonder if you could revive one in the microwave to just-out-of-oven goodness, but have never tried it. If you do, let me know.


Bok Choy with Asian-style Ribs

I've been on a mission to try bok choy for some time now, and a few stir-fry recipes from Fast, Fresh & Green have clinched the deal.  But Susie Middleton really threw down the gauntlet when she added as a blithe aside, "these would be good with some oven-roasted boneless pork ribs."


Asian-style boneless pork ribs.  In the slow-cooker.  Did such a thing exist?

Consult the Oracle.  Of course it exists.  My searchings led me to the blog Choosy Beggars, and this awesome post about boneless Asian BBQ beef ribs.   She used beef, I figured it would work just as well for pork.  I'm not going to transpose it here, because hers is so well-written, being both about ribs and about slow cookers in general.  Just know I followed the recipe to the letter (and yes, there was a special shopping trip involved for things like oyster sauce, Chinese 5-spice powder, etc), and I'll give you a few impressions here:

1) The recipe calls for a grated onion.  I know.  You just have to suck it up and do.  I've heard all kinds of tricks for keeping tears at bay while working with onions; frankly the only thing that is a surefire thing for me is having my contact lenses in.  No such luck so last night I had to try the remedy of chewing gum as I grated.  Not much help.  It was a sobby business.

2) The sauce smells amazing.  I put it all together last night in a tupperware container and the smell lingered around the kitchen for a while.

3) Ribs in cooker.  Sauce on top.  10 hours.  That's the extent of it.  At the end, you will need to skim quite a bit of fat off the top.

4) I didn't love them.  I know, bummer, huh?  They smelled amazing, they looked divine, they cozied up beautifully to the bok choy over rice, they were thoroughly enjoyable.  But I didn't love them.  Maybe I'd love them if they were beef ribs but somehow I don't think so.

I did, however LOVE the bok choy.  That and the rice I could eat over and over again.  So that said, here is the real star of the show...

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Golden Garlic and Silky Sauce

(I added some halved baby carrots to this recipe just so there would be something for the kiddies to fall back on)

  • 12 oz baby bok choy (4-5 heads that are 6-7" long)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (one of the specialties I had to go get, it was in both this and the rib sauce)
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil (and again, had to seek that out.  Wow, does peanut oil smell good!)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced very thinly crosswise
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cut the bok choy lengthwise into quarters.  Wash them well by swishing them in a bowl of tepid water, and spin them dry (I shook mine dry, I didn't feel like breaking out the spinner).

In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, broth and cornstarch

In a large, non-stick stir fry pan, heat the peanut oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic slices and break them up.  Cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds (it smells awesome!)  Add the bok choy to the pan.  Season with the salt and turn the heat up to high.  Using tongs, toss the bok choy with the oil to coat and to distribute the garlic slices.

Cook, rotating and turning the bok choy with the tongs and spreading it out so that all of the stems have some contact with the pan as they cook, and so that the garlic doesn't all gather on the bottom of the pan, until all of the bok choy stems are browned in parts (9 to 12 minutes).

Remove the pan from the heat and, using a silicone spatula, immediately stir the sauce as you pour it into the pan.  As soon as the sauce thickens and begins to coat the vegetables, transfer to the bok choy and the sauce to a serving dish.

Delicious.  The bok choy was crisp and savory, perfect with the sweetness of the carrots, and the sauce is indeed silky.  Really loved this dish.