Chai-spiced Ginger Cookies
These cookies are a relatively healthy treat, well as healthy as cookies can get. These are easy, and quick to get in the oven, but the recipe focuses on quality, flavorful ingredients.
Coconut oil replaces the traditional butter of ordinary cookie recipes as a fat base for the cookies. Although the scent is overwhelmingly “coconut-like” the flavor will not be. Coconut oil hardens easily to a semi-soft consistency when cool, which makes it a better substitute than ordinary vegetable oils. It is also less processed.
Natural sweeteners are used instead of refined sugars. If you’ve never worked with sucanat before, be sure to break up the clumps before mixing. Sucanat is essentially raw cane juice that has been dried and ground, so it has a sort of pebble-like texture. It is not as uniform as crystallized sugar and can require a bit of prepping before adding to a recipe. You can give it a quick run in a blender or food processor, but don’t overdo it or it will get very powdery and change the consistency of your cookies. Molasses and honey also work to sweeten the cookies, but do NOT add more than called for or the liquid ratio will be off. Molasses also adds a very concentrated, deep flavor that can easily become overwhelming. Only a small amount is needed.
The spices for these cookies are reminiscent of those used in traditional Indian tea. As my Indian friend always reminds me, “chai” in Hindi means “tea.” American spiced chai is just flavored with spices commonly used in India. The recipes vary among families, but almost always include cardamom and ginger.
I prefer mine a bit spicier, so I always add cinnamon and black pepper.
Ginger as an ingredient in baking comes from the days when it was used as a preservative. Ginger was one of the first widely used ways of keeping food for periods of time. Breads and cookies were baked with ginger out of necessity instead of desire. Crystallized ginger has been ground and then dried to a semi-hard state and then covered in sugar (constituting the only sugar in this recipe). You can find it in most bulk sections of grocery stores and health food shops. The addition of crystallized ginger to the recipe adds a chewy texture reminiscent of dried fruit and a spicy kick.
Spelt is an ancient grain. Un-hybridized and unrefined, with a low gluten content, spelt makes a great addition or flour replacement to any recipe. It is, however, thicker and more absorbent, so less is usually needed in recipes developed for traditional white flour.
8 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup sucanat
1 tablespoon molasses
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground black pepper
pinch ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup crystallized ginger, diced (cubes or disks work fine)
1 ¼ cup spelt flour
1. Cream coconut oil and sweeteners (sucanat, honey, molasses)
2. Add vanilla and eggs
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt
4. Slowly add dry mix to wet mix.
5. When dough is formed and is of desired consistency, add diced ginger.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes or until just browned on the edges.