I went to an all-girls summer camp for two weeks every August from about 4th grade to 10th grade. The last year I was there I was actually older than some of the junior counselors but I just wanted to squeak in one more year of being a camper. I LOVED that place. My sister and I still talk about it as if it was some sort of idyllic fantasy-land. Which honestly, it kinda was. You wake up every morning snug in your sleeping bag with the crisp mountain air wafting through the screened cabin, spend all day riding horses, swimming, hiking, canoeing, doing arts and crafts, dancing, and playing tennis and volleyball, and then you lull yourself to sleep at the end of the day by reading books by flashlight under your sleeping bag. And as you can imagine, all those activities result in a healthy appetite, so thankfully, the food was actually good! Institutional food is rarely anything more than edible, but the ladies who cooked at my camp kept it simple and tasty (think tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches), and there was always dessert. My absolute favorite was the gingerbread, which they served with big bowls of whipped cream and lemon curd.
Now that last part may have induced a “huh?”, but trust me. Gingerbread with lemon curd is not to be missed. So when I had a half a bowl of leftover lemon curd from my sister’s baby shower, I immediately started looking for something gingerbread-esque to go with it. And David Leibovitz came through with these chewy ginger cookies. He paired them with lemon-ginger ice cream, so you know I’m not crazy. They are dark and intensely gingery, with a soft yet chewy texture. They are actually non-fat, which is great, but that is totally negated by adding lemon curd. The cookies call for 2 egg whites, which leaves you two yolks for making a small batch of curd. Clearly it’s meant to be.
Chewy Ginger Cookies adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes about 20 cookies.
David recommends cooking down applesauce from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup and using that in the cookies for a denser cookie. I just used apple butter since I have several jars leftover from last year’s apple picking bonanza. I think the apple butter added an extra level of spicy goodness, so if you were making this with apple sauce I’d consider bumping the spices up by just a pinch. He also calls for mild-flavored molasses, but I have no idea where you’d find such a thing. Regular old molasses worked fine for me. Also, I love that David gives weights because I hate using a cup to measure molasses. If you don’t have a kitchen scale just give your measuring cup a quick spritz of Pam and the molasses will slide out much easier.
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 apple butter (75 g)
- 1/3 cup molasses (45 g)
- 2 1/4 cup flour (315 g)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/2 tsps cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsps ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 egg whites at room temp (set aside the yolks for the lemon curd)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped candied ginger (I like leaving a couple of slightly bigger chunks as a nice surprise in some bites)
- ~ 1/2 cup white sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon for rolling
Beat the brown sugar, apple butter and molasses on medium for about 5 minutes. Scrape down, add the egg whites and beat for another minute.
Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the wet with the mixer on low. Mix well.
Stir in the candied ginger and then chill the batter.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put your cinnamon sugar in a shallow bowl or dish.
Scoop the batter in heaping tablespoons and plop into the sugar dish. Roll the balls of dough into rough spheres using the sugar to help keep the sticky dough off your fingers. They don’t have to be perfect.
Place the dough balls on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets with at least 3 inches between balls, because these will spread.
Bake for about 13 minutes, until just barely set in the middle. They are supposed to be soft, so don’t overcook. Let cool.
Lemon Curd (not sure where exactly this came from…but it’s lemon curd. It’s a staple)
Makes a small batch. I didn’t measure. Maybe about a cup?
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp (white) sugar
- 3 Tbsp butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 egg yolks
Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest and about half of the butter and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Whisk together the yolks and the rest of the sugar.
Slowly pour about half the hot juice mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly, and then pour the yolks back into the rest of the hot juice in the saucepan.
Cook on medium-low, whisking, until the whisk leaves a trail.
Turn off the heat and add the remaining butter, whisking well to combine as it melts.
Strain into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly to the surface.
Chill at least 30 minutes.
Serve sandwiched between cooled ginger cookies. Or on top of gingerbread. Or with a spoon.
(now I want to try making a layer cake version of gingerbread with lemon curd as the center filling and a whipped cream lemon icing. Hmmm…)