The holidays are here! Colorful lights, gingerbread houses, Santa hats, Christmas music, peppermint hot chocolate... I love love love the holiday season. Sadly though, I must constrain my holiday joy to concentrate on studying for my finals. Yeah... it's finals week here at UC Berkeley, which started today and ends next Friday. But, that also means that there's only one more week till winter break!
One thing I'm looking forward to right now is my annual Christmas cookie marathon. I've already got my cookie list all planned out (it's what I do during my study breaks) and a holiday playlist ready to go. So from 12/21-12/25, look forward to seeing five days of cookie posts as I bake each day from morning to way past my bedtime, cramming in as many cookie varieties as I can before Christmas day, when I'll be handing boxes of them out to friends and family.
But today, here's a recipe for a crunchy, ginger cookie perfect for snacking on during the holidays, whether you're cramming for finals or watching holiday specials on TV or sipping hot chocolate in front of a cozy fire. These buttons are also perfect for the calorie conscious; the cookies are fairly light in calories, around 40 calories each, with a minimal amount of butter (opposed to the usual 1-2 sticks of butter in regular ginger snaps) and egg whites instead of whole eggs. If you haven't started yet on your holiday baking, these darling buttons would be a great addition to your cookie collection.
adapted from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim's Perfect Light Desserts
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
Cream the butter with the two sugars. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl: the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a dough forms. Gather the dough together and split the mound in two.
Place each half of dough on a separate sheet of plastic wrap. Form the halves into long cylindrical logs 1 inch in diameter. Now either refrigerate them for one hour or freeze them for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350°F. When the dough is firm, remove the logs from the fridge. With a sharp knife, slice each log into 1/4 inch thick coins (I got around 27 per log).
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place your cookies onto the sheets. If you want your cookies button-shaped, right now, with the flat end of a toothpick, poke four holes in the center of each cookie to resemble a button (the rest of the button shaping will take place after baking). Now bake your cookies for 15-20 minutes.
Once your cookies are out of the oven, it is time to make them look like buttons. Now I don't actually have a circular cookie cutter smaller than 1 inch, so I had to get creative for the circular rim for my buttons (but if you have one, go ahead and use it). Instead, I pulled off that piece of plastic left behind on a water bottle when you twist off the cap and used it as a "cookie cutter." So with your cookies still warm, push the non-jagged side of the plastic band into each cookie, creating a circular indentation around the cookie rims.
Next, define and enlarge the four holes you made earlier with the flat size of a bamboo skewer. If you want to be able to string thread through these holes, make sure to press through the cookies as you make the holes. Work quickly because the "button-marks" will be a lot more difficult to make once the cookies are cool. I like to bake my cookies in batches so I can shape one portion of the cookies as another sheet is baking. Or, get a family member or friend to help out; two sets of hands are faster than one. Once done shaping, let the cookies cool on a rack. Then enjoy!
Makes 54 cookies.
NOTE: These cookies really are crunchy. So if serving to someone with weak teeth or braces, please warn them, and maybe include a cup of milk or hot chocolate for dunking before consumption :).