There is something about molasses cookies that gives you a warm, snuggly feeling when you eat them. Part of this comes from the fact that these cookies are usually seasonal treats, baked in warm kitchens when it’s cool outside. Part comes from the chewiness of the cookies, which allows you to slowly savor each bite and take your time as you eat. The rest of this feeling can probably be attributed to the fact that the cookies are often well-spiced and offer a lot more depth in the flavor department than the average cookie.
I know I like to use quite a variety of spices when I bake up a batch. These spicy cookies include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper, and get an extra kick from some diced candied ginger mixed into the batter. Molasses has such a dark, sweet flavor that it is a good background for all the spices; the molasses flavor doesn’t get lost in a heavily spiced cookie, but it isn’t overwhelming because there are so many other flavors to balance it out. I added a touch of honey to the cookies just to add a touch of lightness to the overall flavor. You can simply use a bit more molasses if you want your cookies to be a bit darker.
When these come out of the oven, the cookies have a wonderfully crisp surface and a soft, chewy interior. The dough is rolled in sugar before baking and it is this sugar layer that crisps up in the oven. After storage, the cookies become softer and chewier. Molasses and honey help the cookies to stay fresh longer and moist longer than many other cookies, so you’ll be able to savory these slowly – if the spicy-sweet combination of the cookies doesn’t keep you reaching for more right away.
To give my cookies their finished look, I rolled the dough in a mixture of raw, turbinado and muscovado sugars, rather than just using plain/raw sugar. Brown or muscovado sugar alone is not ideal for rolling because of the way it packs down so easily. They do add some extra flavor compared to other sugars, however, so just mix them with something a little less sticky to make things easier.
Spicy, Chewy Molasses Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
2 tbsp honey
1 large egg
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced
sugar, for rolling
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in molasses, honey and egg until smooth.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Working by hand, or with a mixer on low speed, stir flour mixture into molasses mixture. Stir in chopped, candied ginger.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in extra sugar (use plain sugar, coarse sugar, turbinado sugar, etc.) before placing on baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set but not browned.
Cool for 5-10 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes 3 – 3 1/2 dozen cookies