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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

Sometimes drop cookies, especially chocolate or ginger drop cookies, don't bake up to be particularly visually appealing. There is probably a reason that most gingerbread is cut into fancy shapes, and it's that a blob of brown dough doesn't register super high on the "ooh I want to eat that cookie" scale. But don't let the look of these fool you—the flavor is potent and it's awesome.

If you're skeptical of these because these don't include fresh ginger, which seems de rigueur in ginger cookies these days, fear not. A full tablespoon of ground ginger, supported by cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, make these plenty spicy. The real key, however, is your choice of candied ginger. Look for the kind that comes in little cubes, sometimes called Australian ginger. Unlike the flakes or shards of candied ginger, which can be dry, those little cubes bite through easily and release a bit of ginger juice on the way.

But I didn't stop there. I used blackstrap molasses, which is less sweet than regular molasses and has a deep, earthy, almost iron-y taste (not really a surprise as it contains a good share of your day's worth of iron). To maintain that flavor but keep the cookies sweet, I added a handy dose of sugar, and then to counter the sweet dough but add some fruity chew, the dried cherries I folded in are also unsweetened.

Shopping tip: Blackstrap molasses, Australian candied ginger, and unsweetened dried cherries are all usually available at health food stores, especially ones with bulk dried food bins.

About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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