This is my BIG baking week as I need to get my cookie boxes sent to family and friends. I can hardly believe that one week from today, it's Christmas--where did the time go?
This year, I'm feeling very nostalgic and wanted my baking to reflect that feeling. The first cookie I'm making is called a Joe Frogger that dates back to Colonial times in Marblehead, Massachusetts. It's been a cherished cookie by generations of residents there, but also in our family. I love this ginger/molasses cookie because, to me, it "tastes" like Christmas and secondly, it can be made up ahead of time. The cookie was originally baked by a man known as Old Black Joe Brown and an Aunt Crese, who maintained a tavern on Gingerbread Hill (isn't that fitting!) in Marblehead. The fishermen would take barrels of Joe Froggers with them on their trips because the cookies would keep for long periods of time.
This recipe comes from an old book I bought years ago when we lived in Massachusetts, called New England Cookery, which is, unfortunately, out of print. I have since found recipes for Joe Froggers in other books, but I will tell you, do not substitute butter for the vegetable shortening--the cookie will spread and lose its shape. Also, the original Joe Froggers were much larger--about the size of a coffee can, but the baking time I'm giving you is for a 3-inch cookie so they'll fit in my cookie boxes. Feel free to make them large like the traditional ones, just increase the time; you're looking for dark around the edges and firm in the centers.
Joe Frogger Cookies
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I used the sticks for convenience)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup molasses
3 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 T dark rum
1/3 cup hot water
Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Set aside. In a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat the shortening, brown sugar and molasses together.
Combine the hot water and rum and alternately add with the dry ingredients to the sugar/molasses mixture. (If the dough is dry, add a tablespoon or two of additional water.)
I place a sheet of parchment on my dough board and scooped up half of the dough on top.
Place a second sheet over the dough and roll it to 1/4-inch thick.
Place this on a baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the dough.
Refrigerate the two doughs for at least two hours. *The original recipe called for doing this step with waxed paper and that works too.
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Cut the dough into 3-inch cookies with either a round or scalloped cutter.
Remove the excess dough from around the cut cookies and use an off set spatula to lift and place on the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake 10 - 12 minutes (I bake using CONVECTION heat, so I set the temperature on 360F-degrees and baked for 10 minutes). As explained above, the cookies are baked with they are dark around the edges and firm in the centers.
Let the cookies cool for at lease 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
Some kind of ginger cookie has always been part of my holiday baking and these simple cookies meet that criteria. Our grandson arrives on Wednesday and he's already asked me to have my Kelly's Giant Ginger cookies waiting for him, which I will also bake, but I bet he's going to like these too. And, with a cup of cocoa, these are great for Santa!
Later, I'm mixing up chocolate/pistachio dough that I will form into rolls and refrigerate to bake tomorrow. It's going to have an orange buttercream filling--Come back and visit. Enjoy!