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Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

I call these my “Invisible Man” cookies.

OK, really they’re “Chewy Molasses Crinkles” from my newest fave baking book, “Martha Stewart’s Cookies” (Clarkson Potter). But you know how I can’t resist ginger? Well, I couldn’t resist tinkering with the recipe a smidge when I got a sample of the new “Ginger Babies,” made by the Ginger People and sold on the King Arthur Flour Web site for $10.95 for a 6.7-ounce jar ($7 on the Ginger People site). They’re crystallized ginger in the shape of tiny gingerbread men. How cute is that?

Since they’re packed tightly in a glass jar, some of them emerge less than whole. The ones with missing limbs? I just eat those straight out of the jar. Sorry, I can’t help myself.

The label says they go well with cheese, chocolate, muffins, creme brulee, and gingerbread. I, of course, had cookies on my mind.  But then again, when do I not have cookies on my mind? In particular, I thought one of these cute little guys would look just adorable in the center of a chewy, spicy cookie.

The resulting cookies made me chuckle when they emerged from the oven. They reminded me of that famous scene in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, “Predator,”  where before becoming Governor of California, Arnie outwits an extraterrestrial beast by coating himself with mud to blend in completely with his jungle surroundings. You can’t even see him until he opens his peepers to reveal the whites of his eyes.

My “Invisible Man” cookies are kinda like that. The little guy blends in pretty well with the molasses brown cookie after baking. But if you look closely, you’ll spot him — that little extra treat in a cookie that is soft, chewy, and filled with warm spices such as cinnamon and allspice. Eating one makes you feel as if you just got a great big hug.

The dough is very sticky, almost mousse-like in texture, so it’s a little messy to work with even after chilling. But it’s worth it. Just be sure to allow a good three inches of space in-between the cookies when baking, because these puppies spread quite a bit.

Once the cookies are baked, it won’t be long before they become completely invisible. Nope, you won’t be able to see them — because everyone’s sure to scarf them up.

Chewy Molasses Crinkles

(Makes about 2 dozen)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling

2 large eggs

1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

About 2 dozen Ginger Babies (optional; my addition)

Put butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs, one at a time, followed by the molasses and oil.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Cover dough with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a bowl. Using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, form balls of dough. Roll balls in sugar to coat, and space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If using, place one Ginger Baby in the center of each cookie ball, pressing down lightly. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are flat and centers are set, about 17 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days.