Well, after one perfect inaugural performance and several subsequent months of reading the recipe completely arse-backward (too much butter, then too much flour, then not enough flour, then absolutely no idea but they came out of the oven as ginger-scented puddles) and overcompensating in all the wrong directions, I have finally figured out how to make really good ginger cookies.
It's not actually that hard.
All you have to do is follow the recipe.
These cookies are a slightly modified, Antipodean friendly version of a recipe from Epicurious for those of us who don't want to- or don't have the ingredients to - play with shortening or molasses. They are dense, moist, chewy, gingery, and very very moreish. This afternoon I made dozens. I have plans.
2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced crystallized ginger (slice it really fine or an unwary bite could take your mouth off)
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
227g unsalted butter
1/4 cup golden syrup (or molasses, if you're being all northern hemisphere about things)
Granualted sugar for rolling cookies (blonde is best!)
What to do with the Ingredients
Combine first seven ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend 'em in.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg and golden syrup and beat until blended.
Stir in the flour mixture until you have a smooth dough.
Lay the dough on a sheet of clingwrap, wrap it and refrigerate it until cold. (minimum one hour)
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar. Using wet hands, break off dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar and place on prepared baking sheets.
Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to touch - about 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to racks and cool.
(Cookies keep -airtight - up to 5 days at room temperature.)