Triple Ginger Sugar Cookies with Crystalized Ginger Buttercream
My plan for this cookie recipe was engineered as I munched on one of my favorite Trader Joe’s treasures: the Triple Ginger Snap. You may wonder how, out of all of the TJ’s wonders and confections, a ginger snap could ever be a favorite. Well, it is really all about it’s superiority over all other snaps. With the trifecta of gingers ((powdered, fresh & crystallized)), your socks are officially blown off a few bites into the first snap; at the very moment you realize you are picking bits of sweet, peppery candied ginger out of your teeth.
After a few years ((or decades)) of making cookies, there are a few that stand out to me as the “best of the best”. Among those favorites is the Swig Sugar Cookie. It is buttery and soft, but dense and chewy — which comes from the unique blend of sugars & oils. The taste is just perfect: sugary with a little zip from the cream of Tartar. It really is as good as it gets.
So, what does a sugar cookie have to do with a ginger snap?? Well, I took the best of each cookie and came up with my own version of a triple ginger sugar cookie — it is a clash of cookie Titans.
I happen to keep all 3 ginger varieties on hand; crystalized ((aka sugared)) & fresh are so handy in marinades & baking. And, as much as I cringe at the distinct flavor of powdered ginger, there is a certain unspoken pantry staple rule when it comes to this item, making it mandatory in my spice bin — and let’s face it, when you need it — you need it.
With the idea & the ingredients, all that was left was to find the opportunity to create. Football season ensures this Sooner fan gets 4 solid ((nerve-racking)) hours in the kitchen while the herd whoops and moans a few feet away in our family room.
It always helps to have something to keep my hands busy while watching my team fight it out on the field and having a stack of yummy cookies by game’s end makes a bitter loss slightly easier to stomach ((let’s not speak of “the game” further or I will be needing another cookie)), ho hum.
Most of the swig ingredients remain the same – so here is what you need to know about the gingered sugar cookie:
- 1 t powdered ginger
- 1/3 c finely chopped crystalized ginger
- 3 T grated fresh ginger
- 1/3 c molasses
- 1/2 t ground black pepper ((weird but true, give it a try))
I followed the original order of steps and baking instructions ((which are detailed in the recipe card))
— and then went on to play with the buttercream.
Now, the original sour cream buttercream would definitely be a tasty topping for this spicy sugar cookie, but as you may have noticed, I am not one to leave a good thing alone. I really don’t think switching or adding a few ingredients makes this recipe totally original but the truth is, making a few tweaks turns this recipe into something I have never tasted before. Speaking of taste – wow-wee.
Of course, I iced a few right away, for “research purposes” ((and reserved half of the cookies and buttercream to serve a few days later)).
The first tasting proved to be a success among the entire herd — the cookie hits that triple ginger note beautifully while remaining soft, chewy, buttery and — well, sugary. When topped with the buttercream, it sings. That sweet, creamy perfect buttercream, spiced with a handful of chewy, peppery crystallized ginger bits — I think this combo will definitely put the “happy” in Happy Holidays!
And then a few days passed — I pulled the reserved un-frosted cookies and buttercream out of the fridge to share with new taste-testing family members. In that short span of time something amazing happened to the buttercream — the sugared ginger bloomed. Not literally, that really would be amazing! But the sweet, spicy — almost lemony pepperiness of that sweetened dehydrated ginger filled the spaces of that sweet frosting in ways I could have never imagined.
And with that, I accidentally learned a key step in making crystalized ginger buttercream perfectly perfect – take your sweet time ((get it “sweet”… time??!)). If you have a few days to spare, make the buttercream ahead, and prepare for good tidings to come to your tastebuds.
- 1 c butter (salted, room temperature)
- 3/4 c vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 c sugar
- 3/4 c powdered sugar
- 1/3 c molasses
- 2 eggs
- 1 T vanilla
- 1/2 - 1 t black pepper
- 1 t dried ground ginger
- 3 T grated fresh ginger
- 1/3 c finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 T water
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 3/4 t baking powder
- 3/4 t cream of tarter
- 1 t kosher salt
- 6 c flour
- 1/2 c granulated sugar for pressing cookies
- 1/2 c butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 c sour cream
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1/4 c milk
- 2 t vanilla
- 1/3 - 1/2 c finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 lb bag of pure cane powdered sugar
- sprinkles if desired
- Preheat oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a mixer, cream together sugars, oils, water, eggs and vanilla. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients & gently mix. Add flour in thirds to the wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Using a 2 T scoop, place dough on lined baking sheets, approximately 2" apart. Lightly hand roll each cookie dough ball. Place the remaining 1/2 c granulated sugar in a small dish and dip the base of a small glass into the sugar and then press into each cookie, repeating until all the cookies are lightly pressed.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tray for 1-2 minutes before placing on a cooling rack.
- Combine all buttercream ingredients ((except milk & sprinkles)) in a mixing bowl and whip on low speed increasing to medium high as the powdered sugar becomes incorporated. Add milk in 1 T increments until desired consistency is reached.*
- Spread about 1- 2 T buttercream over each cooled cookie & serve. Frost only enough cookies to eat in one sitting. Refrigerate unfrosted cookies and buttercream, frosting as they are served.
- Makes 54 cookies.
- *If you have time, make the buttercream a few days ahead & refrigerate it until the cookies are ready to frost. This gives the crystalized ginger an opportunity to better flavor the buttercream. It will still be delicious if you are short on time, so don't worry if you can't spare a few extra days!