First and foremost, THANK YOU. Seriously. Thank you so much to all of you who voted for us in the Austin Blogger Awards. It meant so much to us that you all were willing to take the time to cast a vote on our behalf. Really. You made our whole week! We didn’t win, but that’s not really what this is all about anyways. I work in social media, so I know that “community” is what’s really important. Sometimes that seems like flip consulting speak, but last week I saw that it’s actually very real. It has been so fun to get to know all of you over the course of the last 8 months or so, and we’re so very thankful to be a part of such a great community of people. So really, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now for one of the magical recipes we promised as tangible thanks…

It was a very Martha Stewart kind of weekend at our house, and if Martha has taught me one thing, it’s that there are not enough hours in the day. I mean really. How does the woman manage to sugar pears, string popcorn, create tissue-paper poinsettias and cook a holiday feast in less than 24 hours?! SHE’S the Christmas miracle! (I’m kidding. I know that she’s not the REAL Christmas miracle, but her stamina is amazing nonetheless.)

All this to say…we had grandiose plans this weekend. Those plans involved decorating our gorgeous Frasier Fir, putting up the Snow Village and unloading the other 18 boxes of Christmas décor, but what you’re looking at on this blog post is about the extent of what we actually accomplished. But, we promised you magical recipes, and we were going to deliver.

Oh – and what’s that in the background of our picture? Just some fun dessert-inspired Christmas décor. That candy cake is probably one of the best craft projects I’ve ever embarked on – I LOVE that thing. It’s so cute and so festive. And the bonus is…you have to buy LOTS of candy. LOTS of leftovers. (To clarify – this is not a Martha craft. This is pure Ellen Reynolds…with a little inspiration from the former Candylicious in Houston.)

But don’t let the candy cake distract you. The real star of this post is Martha’s Chocolate Ginger Cookies. Like all things Martha, they’re a tad time consuming, but they are SO worth it in the end. The ginger flavor isn’t overwhelming at all – it adds just a bit of spice, which is offset perfectly by the addition of cocoa and chocolate chips. The baking sugar adds sweetness and crunch. These are by far our favorite Christmas cookies, and they’re also the best. If you’re going to make one “blow you away, never forget about it for the rest of your life” cookie recipe, this is it. Seriously, these cookies will change your holiday season.

Gather Up:
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, pulverized or 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons boiling water
¼ cup white sparkling sugar

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and crystallized ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add the brown sugar, and beat until combined. Add molasses, and beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water. Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Beat in the baking soda mixture, then the remaining half of the flour mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Turn dough out onto a piece of wax paper. Pat the dough out to about 1-inch thick, seal with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in sparkling sugar.

Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 9-11 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies and is from an old Martha Stewart Living Magazine.