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Spicy, Chewy Molasses Cookies

Spicy, Chewy Molasses Cookies
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

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  • Monet
    November 17, 2008

    Yay holiday baking! I bet these cookies are delicious; I love baked goods with lots of spices. I’m sure my family would like them as well, so I’ll have to add them to my ever-growing list of things to bake this holiday season.
    Thanks for sharing so many of your wonderful recipes with all of us readers…I used your banana gingerbread recipe a little while back and everyone who had some couldn’t get enough of it.

  • Blond Duck
    November 18, 2008

    Those look delicious! Yum!

  • strobellayjam
    November 18, 2008

    Yum! Been looking for a cookie like this for a while and your recipes always turn out so well!

    Just a question re:these drop style cookies…do you flatten them slightly prior to baking or do they naturally spread during the baking process?

    Much thanks! Keep up the good work! Love your blog 🙂

  • Nicole
    November 18, 2008

    Strobellajam – No, these cookies should not be flattened prior to baking. This helps them to get a nice, crackly looking top.

  • Chere
    November 29, 2008

    I am baking these in my oven as I write this. My kitchen smells heavenly!

  • Alyssa
    December 7, 2008

    I made these wonderful cookies tonight – they were so snuggly and delicious! My house smells like Christmas now! Thank you thank you for these fantastic little treasures.

  • Alex
    December 12, 2008

    I made these with my daughter and they turned out really well. I loved your addition of cardamom (my favorite) and black pepper so I chose this recipe. They look beautiful when baked up too.

  • Eli
    December 12, 2008

    You have some great recipes! I will have to try some of these! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Liz
    December 14, 2008

    I just made this cookies, and I was quite pleased with the results. I was tempted to cut back on the candied ginger in the recipe because I thought the cookies would end up being too sweet, but I’m glad I didn’t. These were perfect. Another stellar recipe, thanks!

  • Alexandra
    December 14, 2008

    I want to make these cookies for my holiday cookie gifts! But I have my heart set on using a cookie cutter… will the cookies suffer if I roll them out?

  • Kaye
    December 18, 2008

    Wonderful! The test batch disappeared in less than a day with rave reviews from everyone who tried them. Will be making them again this weekend to include on our Christmas cookie gift platters. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  • Kel
    December 20, 2008

    I’ve now made four batches of these (most for the family, but we gave a lot away too!) and they’re wonderful. Definitely a new favorite! A couple variations:
    – once I forgot the pepper, and they weren’t quite as spicy– so if you want a little less spice, do that.
    – I always double spices, and I added nutmeg and allspice sometimes. So if you like the spicy, that’s how to do it 🙂 (Especially if you plan to eat them warm– spices get stronger when the cookies cool, and we like a good kick even when they’re warm!)
    – If you use up all the candied ginger from making these too frequently, raisins are good.
    – And finally, I sprinkle a bit of coarse salt on top of the cookies before putting them in the oven, to add some complexity to the sweetness, and it works nicely in this recipe.

    Thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful recipe!!!!!

  • Lynn
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve made these cookies twice now and love the flavor. BUT
    both times they rose to become like domes. Thick and rounded rather than thin and flat as shown in the picture. If you aren’t supposed to mash them down then what does one do to get them flat?

  • Diana
    March 29, 2009

    I made these today and they are delicious. I udner baked them by a minute or two but they were done and chewy. Very good. Thank you.

  • Julia
    December 7, 2009

    made these a few weeks ago and they were a huge hit. two people asked for the recipe and my aunt dubbed them her “new favorite cookie”. thanks for the great recipe!

  • miranda
    December 19, 2010

    we use this recipe every year during the holiday season, and they are our FAVORITE. absolutely delicious!

  • Longtimecoming
    October 24, 2012

    I have made these a few times and if you like a spicy, ginger-snappy kind of cookie that this recipe is your best friend! thanks so much for posting, as always you never steer me wrong!

  • Meghan
    November 6, 2012

    In the oven now, I added mixed cake spice and half a teaspoon more ginger for a bit of a kick. I also found there to be not enough dry ingredients so I had to add more flour, the kitchen smells lovely though. Hope they’re done soon!

  • Joan
    November 6, 2012

    Press them down a bit before you put them in! They’ll be dome shaped if you don’t and who wants a dome shaped cookie really?

  • Sara
    December 4, 2012

    Can I freeze these? What about freezing the dough?

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