These soft ginger cookies are perfect for warming you up as the weather gets colder!
So technically, it’s a little early to be baking these, as the weather here hasn’t started getting chilly yet. While my friends in New York might have started shopping for hoodies already, we’re still walking around in our summer Lawn suits here in Islamabad. So why am I posting this so early? Well, I wanted to get as much baking in while I still have gas to cook with.
Now my Pakistani readers are all nodding their heads in understanding while my foreign readers are scratching their heads like, “Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis?”
It’s okay. Let me ‘splain you.
Welcome to Pakistan: An introduction to Load Shedding
You see, when I lived in America, I believed that things like electricity, gas, water and fuel were basic necessities. When I moved to Pakistan, the Pakistani Government was very kind to inform me that no, these are actually LUXURIES.
Here in Pakistan, we have something called “Load Shedding” which is when sections of the city go through power outages for an hour (or maybe more) at a time so that, presumably, the load of all of the electricity being used is evenly distributed and we do not use up more electricity than we are producing. Sometimes these outages are scheduled, and sometimes the power company likes to surprise us.
It’s not a fun surprise.
Electricity load shedding is the worst in the summer, when more power is used (and needed) to power fans and ACs. In the winter, we generally don’t need to worry as much about electric load shedding, but rather the shortage of gas, as more people consume it to heat their homes. As a result, sometimes there is very little gas to cook our food, let alone to bake. There is usually enough flame for us to cook, but because it has very little power behind it, it can sometimes take a few hours to cook a meal. When there is no flame at all, we rely on gas cylinders; some even burn wood and cook the old fashioned way.
Living in Pakistan has turned me into a survivalist, ladies and gentlemen. I should’ve been a cub scout. My burkha would be filled with badges.
The diehard Pakistani bakers who are crazy enough to attempt baking in the winter (aka: me) have to wake up super early, around 4-5am (Fajr time) if they want to have even a hope of baking something. It’s either that or waiting for an opportune moment during the day when there’s enough gas and then praying it lasts long enough for your treats to be ready. (For those attempting this, the general rule of thumb is, if you have enough heat to power your heater properly, you should be okay to use your oven…but pick one, the heater or the oven, you can’t have both at the same time. #PakistaniPriorities)
So getting back to the soft ginger cookies, you want to make sure you have a decent amount of gas to bake them. Which reminds me of the first time I made these.
It was winter and I’d missed my post Fajr window to bake, but I really wanted to try out a recipe for soft ginger cookies. I thought I’d have to wait for the next day, but somehow, magically, we had enough gas for me to power the oven. It was just around Zuhr prayer time so I quickly prepared the dough and popped it in the oven, then went to pray in the lounge where my mother-in-law had already started prayer.
I was about mid-way through prayer when “Beau” (who was a year and a half at the time) comes barreling in, trips over the carpet and crashes right into a chair. My mother in law and I break prayer and rush to him. She gets to him first and says the weirdest thing.
“Sar Patha hai.”
Which translates to “his head’s been ripped.”
I’m thinking, how can a head get “ripped”? And then she moves her hand and I see crimson blood flowing from my son’s head and rapidly pooling into her hand.
My world tilts on it’s axis. (This, by the way, is probably one of the main reasons why I left the pre-med track in college.) I run (crookedly, because, you know, the floor is tilted) to the medicine cabinet and pull out fistfuls of gauze which I throw at my mother-in-law and then stumble to the freezer to grab ice.
Between the screams and the cries (both mine and Beau’s) and the ice and the gauze, we somehow manage to stop the bleeding. I’m thinking, okay, this might not be so bad. Head wounds usually look worse than they really are because there’s a lot of blood, but it’s probably just a scratch.
And then we get a good look at it and it’s this deep and gaping mouth of a wound. Now, I’m not a doctor (sorry, Mom) but yeah, I don’t think a bandaid is going to cover this.
I’m already throwing my burkha on when my father-in-law comes back from the masjid and we rush Beau to the nearest emergency room. He’s seen immediately, and, while the wound did need professional care, we’re lucky that he didn’t need stitches. We end up getting back home in a little over an hour.
It’s not until I get home that I remember the cookies I left in the oven.
I run into the kitchen and quickly take the cookies out of the oven only to find that they are still just a little bit raw.
Soft Ginger Cookies with Brown Butter Recipe
So you know how ginger cookies are typically rock hard with this really intense ginger flavor and they kinda burn your tongue? Yeah, I don’t like those.
These soft ginger cookies are what I feel ginger cookies SHOULD be. They are soft and sweet, with enough ginger to be a ginger cookie without overwhelming you. The spices enhance but do not overpower the flavor. And then theres the brown butter factor. Oh my GOD MMM. These cookies taste like what would happen if the soul of masala chai was infused with the body of a brown butter chocolate chip cookie. In other words, HEAVENLY.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, Beau, the resident picky eater of the family has approved these. He loves to cook and bake, but hates actually EATING anything. It drives me NUTS but I can’t say anything because I was kind-of-sort-of exactly the same as a kid (fellow parents, don’t you hate it when that happens?). Alhamdulillah, Beau has been eating these soft ginger cookies every day (which he can do because I made four batches of these so far!) TRUST ME, if Beau is eating them, then you KNOW they’re good!
Do yourself a favor and give these a try, even if you think you don’t like ginger cookies. These might change your mind! And please do NOT skip over the brown butter part and just use regular butter. I know it’s an extra step and tacks on extra time for prepping these but it is SO. WORTH. IT.
Please make the effort to chill your dough overnight if possible or at the VERY least for two hours – it makes for a thicker, softer, browner cookie AND (more importantly) concentrates the flavors, giving you the absolute best looking and tasting end product.
I really hope you make these and I hope you love them as much as we did.
Until next time, happy heat!
Soft Ginger Cookies with Brown Butter
These soft ginger cookies with brown butter are what happens when masala chai meets a brown butter chocolate chip cookie. You've got to try this!
- 3/4 cup butter unsalted
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour sifted
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ginger
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus more for rolling
- 1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1/4 cup shakkar (or molasses) firmly packed
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch lemon zest (optional)
Melt 3/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat while stirring occasionally until the butter darkens in color and solids begin to form at the bottom. Butter will give off a sweet, toffee like fragrance when it's ready. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat proof bowl to come to room temperature.
Chill brown butter for 20 minutes in freezer to solidify, then remove from freezer and bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter (about 10 seconds.)
Add 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add shakkar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest (if using). Beat well, scraping down the sides as needed.
Gradually add in the dry ingredients on low speed until just combined. It will be crumbly.
Using your hands, work the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Cover dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least two hours (preferably overnight.)
After the dough has chilled, it will be extremely hard. Take it out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature until it is easy to manipulate it and roll it into balls. Towards the end of this thawing period, preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C and line baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges turn brown. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
You can use jaggery, if you can't find shakkar, just make sure it's crushed finely so it can incorporate properly into the dough.
Recipe adapted from Genius Kitchen.