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Five Spice Molasses Cookies

Five Spice Molasses Cookies

Molasses is a wonderfully rich ingredient that I bake with regularly during the fall, winter and holiday baking seasons. It’s rich, bittersweet flavor is the backbone of many spice cakes, gingersnaps and molasses cookies. These Five Spice Molasses Cookies are not your typically gingerbread cookies, though they do use molasses as a based for their flavor. They’re generously seasoned with Chinese five spice powder for a unique and very delicious spicy sweetness.

Five spice powder is a popular spice blend that typically includes star anise, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and fennel seeds, though it sometimes contains ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, as well. It’s available in the spice section at most supermarkets, and you’ll definitely be able to find it at an Asian specialty grocery store, as well. Since molasses is a strong flavor, I was generous with the five spice. The cookies have a great flavor straight out of the oven, but they improve with time, so these cookies will taste even better a day after baking.

The key to getting the best results with these cookies is to not over bake them. Because the cookies are dark in color, it can be difficult to tell at a glace whether they’re done or not. The best way to check them is by gently touching the sides of the cookie with your fingertip. The cookie should soft, but firm enough to spring back after you’ve touched it. This springiness is the same quality that you should look for in a well-baked cake. The cookies will continue to firm up as they cool and will remain nice and chewy for several days after baking, though they’ll have a slightly crisp outer edge from the sugary coating. If you overbake the cookies – baking them until they are crisp on the edges instead of tender – they will be quite hard after they have cooled. Fortunately, it would take several extra minutes to overbake them, so you should be just fine as long as you check them for doneness and follow the baking guidelines below.

Five Spice Molasses Cookies
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg, molasses, vanilla, five spice powder and cinnamon. Gradually blend in the flour mixture until the dough is uniform and no streaks of flour remain visible. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls and roll in sugar. Arrange on baking sheet leaving about 2-inches between the cookies to allow for spread, then gently press to flatten into disc shapes.
Bake for 11 – 12 minutes, or until the cookies are set on the edges and spring back when lightly touched. Cookies will continue to bake as they cool, so do not bake until cookies are hard on the edges.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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