Creating a new type of cookie was partly an exercise in creativity, and partly an exercise in baking for me. While I love to cook and do so frequently, baking is something I usually leave up to mom. Luckily, I live just 25 minutes south of the cities, so mom's expertise came in handy with this assignment.
My first thought that came to my head after getting this objective was a combination spiced/ citrus cookie, inspired by a dessert that is served at the cafe that I work at on St. Anthony Main. I jotted down some notes of things that would be interesting to create this flavor combination; cayenne, chili, chipotle pepper, lemon zest, orange zest, lavender. I thought of ways to combine these flavors in cookie and realized that a chocolate-based cookie would be the best route for the flavors I wanted. However, I don't particularly like chocolate cookies.
Back to the drawing board! While going through my mother's cupboard I found an ingredient which I love and which has a sort of "spice" of it's own; ginger. Again I thought of citrus flavors that would blend well with ginger and came up with the idea of creating a ginger and lemon zest cookie. Now I had to find a base from which to create said cookie. My mom quickly suggested a sugar cookie, which made sense to me, and specifically the base I used was as sour cream drop sugar cookie.
With my ingredients and base recipe in place, I started creating the first iteration (read: batch) of cookies. I added 2 tsp of ginger paste to the recipe, as well as the zest of one small lemon. Another addition which came as a last second decision was to add some lavender sugar that was in my mom's cupboard.
The verdict on this first batch were that they tasted good, but they tasted more like a plain sugar cookie and needed some more zing. So onto the next batch. This time around I changed up the recipe a little more, using some fresh ground ginger as well as the 2 tsp of ginger paste. A little more lemon zest was used as well. Another idea I had was to incorporate some candied (crystallized) ginger on top, so I pushed a small piece of candied ginger into the top of each cookie. This batch turned out much better, with more ginger and lemon flavor. However I didn't like how the candied ginger was incorporated.
So, final batch! This time around I made a simple frosting of butter and confectioners sugar, and pressed a small piece of candied ginger into the frosted cookies. These were great, and the keepers.
This is the final recipe for the lemon-ginger sugar drop cookies:
1/4 C shortening
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/3 C flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp lemon zest
candied ginger for garnish (cut into small dime-sized pieces)
Combine dry ingredients in bowl, set aside. Combine wet ingredients and mix well until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients slowly to wet batter, blending all along. Dollop spoonfuls onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper (roughly golf ball sized). Bake @ 425F for 7-8 minutes until light brown.
The process of innovating a new cookie started as a practice in simple baking methods, but turned into a fun iterative process of trial and error. I was definitely pleased with the final product.