I realize to a lot of people, finding food inspiration from music might not be the first thing they think of. To me, it makes perfect sense, and really, I’m not alone in the general idea. Megan of Feasting on Art does it with great paintings, Dinah Fried did a photo series of dishes from famous literature, and lots of people take inspiration from films. Each time I see it, I always think “I thought of that, too!”… with the exasperation of a child sitting on the sidelines of the game because she forgot her uniform at home. But I wasn’t doing anything about it, and they were, so I sat sideline and enjoyed reading others’ inspiration. Until now… I’ve had this particular recipe in mind for a long time, and it’s great to finally see it on “paper”.
I’m in love with this song: Velvet Underground’s Oh! Sweet Nuthin. It’s husky, unctuous, a touch of sweet sadness in a slow shuffling tempo. So I tried to evoke that… in a cookie. I hope you’ll hear me out on this. It’s a really great song, and I think it’s a damn fine cookie, too, actually. I hope you will try it, and play some Velvet Underground while you eat them…
“…Say a word for Jimmy Brown
He ain’t got nothing at all
Not a shirt right of his back
He ain’t got nothing at all
And say a word for Ginger Brown
Walks with his head down to the ground
They took the shoes, took the shoes from his feet, from his feet
And threw the poor boy right out in the street….”
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes 3 dozen
All natural, vegetarian
Special equipment: pastry brush
Ingredients, equipment or steps with options for substitutions/variations have an asterisk next to them (*). See notes at the bottom of the recipe for details.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or cloves)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated natural evaporated cane sugar*
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water*
1/4 cup molasses
Finishing touches (optional)*
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, diced very fine
Set both racks in the middle sections of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 180 C
Line 2 – 3 sheet pans with parchment paper or silpat, set aside
Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, andspices in a medium bowl and whisk to mix. In with either a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat together on medium speed the butter and sugar until fluffy and lighter in color, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat about 30 seconds more. Turn off the mixer, add half your dry ingredients, and begin to beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl, and add your molasses and mix on low until just combined. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low another 20 – 30 seconds or until just combined. Turn off your mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides one last time and give it a few last stirs to make sure no unincorporated butter remains on the bottom of the bowl.
With a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop out 1-inch diameter pieces of dough. Roll between the palms of your hands to form balls, and place on the prepared pans leaving about 2 inches between each to allow for spreading. Most cookie standard sheets can hold 12 balls, 3 rows of 4. Bake the cookies for about 17 to 20 minutes, or until they have spread and have firm, crackled tops. Lift liners from the pans to cooling racks to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare a bain-marie (water bath, double boiler) with a saucepan and a stovetop-safe bowl that fits over the mouth of the saucepan (but doesn’t fit completely inside it) and fill the saucepan with enough water to touch the bottom of the saucepan. Add your chocolate to the bowl, and place over the saucepan. Bring the water to simmer, and with a rubber spatula, stir your chocolate until just completely melted. Remove from heat.
With your pastry brush, paint one side of each cookie with a thin layer of chocolate, then immediate sprinkle with a pinch of crystallized ginger. Place each cookie back onto the liners to cool again.
Best served immediately if you would like crisp cookies. For a chewier cookie, store in airtight containers lined with parchment in a cool place for 2 – 3 days.
*Notes on variations/substitutions
*Flour & water – You can omit the whole-wheat flour for another ½ cup of unbleached all-purpose flour. Just be sure to remove the 1 tablespoon of water.
*Granulated evaporated cane sugar – You can replace this with white granulated sugar. The flavor will be a little less deep.
*Finishing touches – Instead of coating with chocolate, you can leave unadorned (they’re quite tasty as-is!). Or, in the dough rolling stage, you can roll the cookie balls into turbinado sugar or diced crystallized ginger before setting on the baking sheet.