If you've been keeping up with this site for a while, you know I'm a big fan of make ahead recipes. Whether it's planning for a breakfast casserole the night before or making chili a day before serving, not only is it a great way to save time later on, many dishes are actually quite a bit better a day or two after being prepared. And one of my all-time favorite make ahead ideas is making cookie dough balls and freezing them in a resealable freezer bag labeled with the name of the cookies, the temperature of the oven, and the baking time. Then, it's just a matter of preheating the oven when you want some cookies fresh from the oven!
These cookies are brimming with bright orange flavor that's backed up with the herbal, citrus, slightly sweet flavor of cardamom. If you are fond of gingersnaps, try this tweak on the concept that will bring a more complex flavor profile to your cookie jar. You can skip the step where you roll the cookie dough balls in granulated sugar, but I really love the pretty sparkly topping and hit of sweetness you get when it's used.
The combination of both dark brown sugar (which has more molasses in it than light brown) and actual baking molasses (avoid blackstrap molasses - it's too bitter) give these cookies the soft, chewy texture and the warm, sweet, somewhat smoky flavor you've come to expect from gingersnaps and their ilk. If you find the cardamom flavor doesn't come through enough, feel free to mix a half to a full teaspoon of ground cardamom in with the granulated sugar before rolling the cookie dough balls in it. It will give you a hit of cardamom flavor right up front and later, as you chew these delicious cookies. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup (12 tablespoons) butter, softened
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar, for coating
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
Beat the brown sugar and orange zest into the butter until just combined. Beat in the egg, scraping the bowl. Beat in the molasses and vanilla extract.
Carefully sprinkle the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, and cardamom evenly over the surface of the dough; beat until just combined.
Cover and chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Scoop out 2 teaspoon portions of the dough and form into little balls. Roll the balls gently in granulated sugar. At this point, you can place them on plates or plastic trays and freeze until solid. Place the frozen cookie dough balls in a resealable plastic freezer bag labeled with the name of the cookies, the temperature of the oven, and the recommended baking time. Store in the freezer and bake as desired. Use within 3 months.
When ready to bake, place the cookie dough balls spaced evenly on cookie sheet(s) lined with silicone baking mat(s).
Bake at 350° F for 11-13 minutes or until the edges are firm but center is slightly soft. Cool and enjoy.
- Yields: 18 cookies
- Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus 20 minutes of chilling time