Ginger Molasses Cookies

I have tried many ginger molasses cookie recipes, but this is my favorite. I make this for the Winter holidays, and get rave reviews. It is tender with a deep gingerbread flavor, but so much simpler to make than gingerbread cookies. I adapted this from Williams-Sonoma’s Cookies and Biscotti, by Kristine Kidd, Time-Life Books, 1993.

Ginger Molasses Cookies
Makes 30 to 36 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (4 oz.) vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp. grated orange zest
About 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat together the shortening, butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, molasses, and orange zest. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Preheat an oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a medium scoop, such as #40, shape the dough into balls 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Then roll the balls in the granulated sugar, coating them evenly. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until pale golden and cracked on top but still soft. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Gently transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.