Giant Chewy Ginger-Spiced Cookies ((The Recipe of the Year))
Yes, this little cookie recipe is indeed the “Recipe of the Year” (RotY). Not this year, but of 1998. In 1998, Better Homes and Gardens declared this cookie to be their RotY in November. At the time this cookie was crowned with such an honor, I was living in Dallas, had completed my Master’s and was well in the stride of working as an Environmental Scientist…. oh, and I was single.
The first weekend in November, I traveled back home – to Norman, Oklahoma to attend the wedding of a close friend. I had been a bridesmaid many times before this, so I was familiar with all the weekend would entail. First, the rehearsal and the awkward moment of meeting “the guy”. You know, the guy that would be escorting me up the aisle, the one I would have to TOUCH, the one I would have to be paired with for every activity…
This time it was kind of funny, because they were arranging us by height. I am about the shortest person I know – but that night I was the second shortest. As I glanced across the way, watching the groomsmen be arranged in the same manner, my eyes fell on one person – I hoped we would be a match. However, I quickly compared his height to the fellows around him and realized we would be off by two. Darn.
Then something interesting happened. He was lined up to be my escort. Yippee!
It was soon our turn to practice the walk. I looked up at him and said something profound like “Hi,my name is Emily.”
He growled a miserable sort of reply and with that, I checked him off of my list.
I couldn’t help but notice how grumpy he seemed at the rehearsal dinner – but what did that matter to me?? I had already checked him off of THE list.
After the rehearsal dinner was over, us girls went to The Mont ((It was a Norman thing then and 16 years later it is still a Norman thing)).
My friends and I were having a nice evening, laughing, reminiscing and the like – when the groom and one of his groomsmen popped in and crashed our girl fun.
The groomsman was mine, well not mine – he was my match…I mean we were a team, a pair, uh — a set. Whatever, you know what I mean – or do you?
I was certain this young lad was going to get us thrown out of the bar, as he looked only 2 days over 19. I quickly told him he needed to leave before he got us all in trouble.
“What are you, like 19?” I shot as he sat down at our crowded table, picked up my drink and drank it, the pig.
“What?! I am 21 and 2 months!” He spat back. “OOOH.” I thought.
What happened next may seem unbelievable – but I assure you, it happened. My groomsman, lets call him Mr. Grumpy had a question about how we were to meet to walk up the aisle. Apparently Mr. Grumpy hadn’t been paying attention.
I began trying to explain it to him – but he quickly interrupted me: “I am confused! I have an idea, just hear me out.”
I have to say, even to describe myself as SLIGHTLY interested in what would pop out of his mouth would have been an over statement.
But the pause of me contemplating my lack of interest gave him just enough time to share his idea.
“I don’t know when we should link arms – but what I do know is that we should meet in the middle and kiss” he said decisively.
My eyes bugged out of my head – again giving Mr. Grumpy enough time to continue on the “kissing” roll. “…AND, I think we should start practicing right now!” and with that our eyes locked.
My eyes were seething, his eyes looked a little glassy ((for the record)).
I leaned forward as he said “I dare you.” One thing about my twenties: I was not one to turn down a dare.
“You are not even serious!” I proudly boomed “Because you are not even leaning forward.”
And in a blink, we kissed. One of those classic, teeth chinking kisses. As if that wasn’t unbelievable enough, this next part will really shock you: I kissed Mr. Grumpy and I liked it, teeth chink and all.
The night ended soon after our kiss, but my heart and mind buzzed with hopes and plans for the rest of the night ((and day and night)). I was staying with mom and dad and got home about 1 AM. Normally, I would not wake my mom up to let her know I had made it home — but this night was different. I had teeth chinked Mr. Grumpy and I liked it! This was big news.
“Mom, we need to talk! Wake up and come in my room.” Unsure, and probably worried about what I was about to say, mom sat down on the edge of my bed in my childhood bedroom.
“I met a guy tonight, he is my escort, we kissed and think he is the one.”
Her eyes bugged. But even amid the shock of what she was hearing, she knew this was different – and I could tell she believed me.
Haha, just kidding! The next evening as the wedding approached, the wedding party gathered in a back room. Mr. Grumpy was nowhere to be found. My heart was flipping, sinking and flying all at the same time. “Where was he??” “was he feeling the same thing I felt or was I just a pathetic single mess??” I thought as panic started to creep in my mind — “What is happening to me, what is my problem??”.
As I was in deep thought and self-doubt, someone came up from behind, squeezed my left arm and whispered softly in my ear: “I am looking forward to getting to know you better tonight.” My HEART FLIPPED out of my mouth and beat on the floor and then jumped back into its proper location. Mr Grumpy – was no longer grumpy he was Mr. Great!! He liked me – I liked him.
((I later found out the reason he had been so grumpy: he had been duck hunting all morning, which started around 3 AM and he was tired. Poor grumpy guy.))
We spent the entire evening together, went to a late showing of the Wizard of Oz and talked late into the morning. As I left him to go back to mom and dad’s he asked me for my number. I jotted it down but as I handed it to him, I also gave him a warning; “Don’t call me if you are only interested in a good time. I don’t have time for that.” Then I left.
The drive back to Dallas the next day was long. “What was I thinking, I bet he will never call me!” I second guessed myself the entire trip home. The next day, I began to wonder if all I remembered had really happened. Work seemed to drag, my heart felt heavy. I got home and was fixing myself some dinner as the phone rang. It was him. We spoke and I got the reassurance I needed – it was real, the weekend had happened as I remembered, my heart flew again,
We made plans for him to drive up from College Station ((where he worked as a college drop-out graveyard shift gas station attendant, ummm…)) to meet for dinner the next evening.
I made him some cookies, but not just any cookies. The RotY cookies from my brand new issue of Better Homes and Gardens, the Giant Chewy Ginger Spice cookies. We walked into my apartment and the warm scent of baked ginger spice greeted him. “Want a cookie?” I asked.
And the rest is history. He escorted me up the aisle in November of 1998 and again in June of 2000. So, I guess you could say this is the cookie that started it all.
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups shortening
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup coarse sugar or granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to soften. Gradually add the 2 cups granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and molasses. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour mixture.
- Shape dough into 2-inch balls using 1/4 cup dough. Roll balls in the 3/4 cup coarse or granulated sugar. Place about 2-1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are light brown and puffed. (Do not overbake or cookies will not be chewy.) Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Approximately 2 dozen 4-inch cookies.