This is more than a cookie recipe: It is the story of the recipe and, because they are intertwined, it is also the story of Lola’s.
I made my first batch of ginger chocolate cookies more than a decade ago, in my KitchenAid mixer at home. I had seen a recipe that wasn’t quite right in my view, and instinctively knew what I wanted to do with it. Right out of the oven these cookies were winners — soft and slightly puffy when warm, artfully cracked on the surface, with a deep molasses chewiness. Not at all like a ginger snap. I loved the thickness, the texture, and the chocolate. Especially the chocolate.
My husband and young kids were the next big fans. I had talked of entering my baked goods in the Virginia State Fair, and they urged me to add these to the roster. Nervously, I filled out the competition form, unsure how these would do in an open category.
That September, our whole family drove to Richmond with a batch of cookies I’d baked at the last possible moment. We stayed overnight in a hotel, then drove to the fairgrounds on opening day.
The judging hall was full of hardcore home bakers — people who compete at the fair every year. Many knew each other, but I was an outsider who had never even attended this fair before. I felt sure I had no chance.
That morning we wandered around the State Fair checking out the farm animals, the BMX bike show, the hog races. Finally we dared to return to the judging hall. I found that I’d won multiple prizes, including a blue ribbon — first prize! — for my ginger chocolate cookies.
High on that win, I became more serious about my dream of starting a real bakery. I traded up to a bigger mixer and sold more of my home-baked goodies at local farmers’ markets. I experimented: Mini cakes, breads, biscotti, special cookies of all sorts.
My customers’ favorite never changed: Ginger Chocolate, always.
Before long, I opened the Lola bakery. We branched into cupcakes, and lovely custom cakes. And yet for seven years, when people talked about Lola’s they never failed to mention the Ginger Chocolate Cookies.
These cookies have made many people happy. They make me happy still: I never get tired of baking them, of smelling that wonderful cinnamon and ginger aroma coming from the oven and serving them to an eager audience.
Would you like to bake some yourself? I’ve scaled this recipe back down to its original size, just right to fit in your home mixer when you want to bake up a couple dozen. Enjoy!
P.S. I’m sure you noticed the amazing photos included in this post. They were taken my my talented photographer friend Jeanette. Her web site is here.
[ As with all my cookie recipes, please read these baking tips before you start. ]
- 2 sticks plus 2 Tablespoons butter, cut up into chunks
- 9 oz light brown sugar (~1¼ cups)
- 7 oz molasses (~1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon)
- 16 oz all-purpose flour (~3.5 cups plus 2 Tablespoons)
- 7 teaspoons American cocoa
- 5½ tsp. ginger
- 2¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 2¼ tsp baking soda
- 14 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (~2.25 cups)
- extra granulated sugar for finishing
- Put the butter, brown sugar and molasses in the bowl of a small stand mixer and run it on low speed until the butter is broken down completely and there are no visible bits of butter left.
- In a separate bowl, stir together then flour, cocoa, spices and baking soda. Add these combined ingredients to the mixer bowl and run it again on low until the dough is almost --but not completely-- combined.
- Now pour in the chocolate chips and stir them until everything is fully combined (about one more minute).
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the mixer blade. If you see any unmixed parts, run the mixer again. If it looks good, go ahead and start scooping. I use a yellow #20 (2 oz.) scoop for these cookies to make a nice big soft cookie.
- After you've scooped the cookies, roll them just a bit between your clean hands to smooth out each ball and roll each one in a shallow bowl of sugar. This will give them their glistening and lightly crisp exterior. Put them on a baking sheet and pat them down lightly so they don't roll and so they'll spread just right.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes until the tops begin to crack a bit.
- Serve slightly warm for maximum impact.