Cookie swaps are a happy thing. It’s fun to bake your favorite cookies to share with others, and in return indulge in a variety of other bakers’ family treats.
A holiday cookie swap tends to take place at school, in the office or within families or groups of friends. But today’s cookie exchange, The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, is between hundreds of food bloggers around the country! What a delicious way to discover terrific food blogs, new friends and to benefit Cookies for Kids Cancer.
Deciding on which cookie to bake was simple ... molasses. Every time I bite into a molasses cookie, I’m reminded that this is indeed my favorite cookie (as well as Bob’s). The combination of molasses and ginger never ceases to please me. I bake them often during this season, but rarely during the rest of the year, which really is a shame. I should make that one of my New Year’s resolutions – bake more molasses cookies!
Not only do these cookies evoke the flavors of this season, they travel well and stay fresh and delicious. I discovered this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated years ago. They bake into soft, thick cookies, with a strong molasses flavor and the warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice. The secret ingredient, freshly ground pepper, is brilliant and adds a perfect little kick in each bite.
I usually make a big batch of dough, scoop it into balls, roll them in sugar and freeze on a baking sheet. Then it’s easy to pop them in a plastic bag and stash in the freezer to bake at a moment’s notice. They never last long, though!
We’ve already had scrumptious cookies arrive from Janet and Joanie, with more on the way from Catherine. Thank you! My family immediately pounced and began eating. We all appreciate the love and time that go into creating these luscious treats. It’s wonderful to share and connect in this way! I appreciate Lindsay and Julie hosting this lovely cookie exchange and am delighted to participate. If you’d like to join in next year’s swap, you can sign up here for more info. Happy cookie baking to you!
Molasses Spice Cookies
Adapted slightly from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes about 20 cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup molasses (you can use either light or dark depending on your taste – I like a dark, full flavored one)
1/2 cup turbinado sugar or more (for rolling)
Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachment (you can also use an electric hand mixer and bowl), cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix well. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the molasses. Beat to mix in, scraping down the sides as necessary. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix just until blended. Scrape down the sides. The cookie dough will be very soft.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the turbinado sugar into a small bowl. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop individual scoops of dough on the baking sheet. Using your hands, quickly roll each scoop into a ball and then gently roll the ball in the bowl of sugar to coat. Replace the cookie balls on the baking sheet. When finished, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for an hour (if you’re baking that day) or in the freezer (if planning ahead).
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the cookie dough from the fridge or freezer and place half the dough balls on another baking sheet lined with parchment. Space them evenly. Bake for about 11 minutes (12 minutes if baking frozen ones), until the cookies are puffy and the edges just set, but with a soft center. There will be some cracks and the inside may look a bit raw. Do not overbake – the cookies will firm up a bit as they cool. These are meant to be soft cookies. Let cool on the baking pan for 5 minutes before removing. Repeat baking with the remaining cookies. The cookies will keep well at room temperature for a week if well wrapped, or they freeze beautifully.