To get the dough going, brown sugar, granulated sugar and molasses blend into the softened butter (not meltingly soft - a cool room temperature is best for cookies), sweetening the dough with a touch of complexity and depth. After an egg joins the mix, flour, baking soda and salt create the dough, which were first whisked together, speckled with the aroma of fall in the form of snappy ground ginger and a hearty pinch of allspice. There was one more addition to give the cookies an intriguing bite - fresh ground black pepper. We felt a quarter teaspoon was just barely enough to notice, yet enough to take note, but ramp it up to a half teaspoon if you're feeling especially frisky.
To make the dough easier to handle (it is a touch sticky right out of the bowl), it is flattened and stashed in the freezer while the oven comes up to temperature. These cookies are labeled giant for a reason - the whole batch of dough makes a mere 12, but you could make them smaller if you want. The easiest way to get the cookies as even as possible (without a scale!) is to quarter the dough, then cut each quarter into thirds before rolling them into balls. To give the cookies crunch and sparkle on the outside, the balls are rolled around in a pool of granulated sugar, then sprinkled with any of the leftovers once they make it on the baking sheet.
Because these cookies are so large (it took 8 M&Ms to cover edge to edge!), you'll want to flatten each ball of dough before they bake to ensure they cook and spread well. Do be sure to give them plenty of room to grow - we spaced them 6 to a sheet and that was just enough that they did not touch. You can bake two sheets of dough at the same time if you like - use the upper and lower third racks in the oven, then rotate the sheets halfway through baking.
As soon as they are done, let them cool slightly on the pans before moving them to wire racks - not only does this make them easier to transfer, but letting them rest on the hot pan extends their chewy nature. Large enough to split with a friend, measuring a good 5 inches across, these cookies rocked on the texture scale - crisp on the outer edges with a gratifying chew as you munch towards the center. The ginger-y wallop was pleasant, but now it has me wondering how these be with a scoop or two of chopped crystallized ginger (can't help it... I love that stuff!). Wrapped individually in cellophane packages, tied with a fancy bow, I bet these would also make fantastic bake sale cookies!
Giant Ginger Cookies