What you'll need:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar, plus extra for topping
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
1) If, like me, you have no margarine and always forget to soften the butter early, take it out of the fridge, cut into small cubes, and leave in a large mixing bowl while you mix up the dry ingredients.
2) Preheat oven to 350°F, and leave the butter bowl someplace close for more efficient softening.
3) In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside, and check your butter.*
*It won't be soft yet. Some of you will get impatient and start trying to cream it at this point. Some of you genetically related to me, anyway. You will then get annoyed as little butter chunks fly everywhere and make a mess. By the time you've cleaned the butter chunks off the counters and stove, and also fished a stray bit out of your cleavage, the rest of the butter may or may not be softened. If it isn't, this exercise will get repeated.
4) At long last, the butter is soft! Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the water and molasses.
5) Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture.**
** If you pour in dry ingredients, then go to town with the electric mixer, be prepared for clouds of flour to cover both you and all of your immediate surroundings. This is especially annoying if you tried to prematurely cream the butter and sugar, got butter chunks everywhere, and already cleaned them up. Ahem. The second time I made these, I used a spoon to stir the dry ingredients in part way, then used the electric mixer for the rest. Much cleaner all around.
6) The dough will probably be a bit gooey at this point and hard to shape into balls, so stick the whole mixing bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes while you clean up any remaining flour/butter/sugar/molasses left on your kitchen walls.
7) Pour a couple of tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl. Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll them in the sugar bowl. Place the balls 2 inches apart on a foil-covered, ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten them slightly with your fingers.
8) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing. Store in an airtight container.
A couple of notes: As you can see, I placed the cookie balls too close together, so they ran into each other a little. Unless you are super anal about your cookies being exactly round, this is not really an issue.
Also, you can sorta see my finger marks on the cookies below. This is because I didn't have measuring spoons when I made these, and had to estimate the amount of baking soda. Turns out I added a bit much, and thus had to squish this batch more enthusiastically than usual. Nonetheless, they were delightful, and all the cookies on that plate were practically gone by the time our guests left.