Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Molasses Spice Cookies


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.

30 comments:

  1. Great choice! I am sure the recipients of those were thrilled!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alyssa! This cookie swap was a fun one, wasn't it? Love the look of your gingerbread biscotti.

      Delete
  2. I loved these, prolly my faves, but I do have a thing for ginger cookies, they were perfection and they are all over my blog ;) Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Adriana! I'm delighted you enjoyed the cookies. Happy to bake and share with you! :)

      Delete
  3. Great minds think alike, Hannah! I also did a molasses cookie for the cookie swap. So good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay for molasses cookies, Christie! I'm popping over to check yours out - molasses are my favorite and I can't wait to see your recipe. This was a fun swap to join in!

      Delete
  4. I love molasses in cookies! And molasses in oatmeal. And in peanut butter sandwiches... Highly underrated sweetener in my opinion! I signed up for the swap next year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmm, molasses in oatmeal - now why haven't I thought of that before? I'm going to make some this morning. Totally agree, it's a lovely sweetener.

      I'm so happy you signed up for the swap! Someone is going to be very lucky next year to receive your baked goods. Love all the cookies you're sharing this month!

      Delete
  5. These sound spicy! I want to try them. I don't think I have used that much pepper in a sweet recipe before. Intriguing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cookies have a nice bite to them, but the molasses/ginger flavors still dominate. I actually increased the amount of pepper from the original recipe because I like the kick so much. You can start out with 1/4 teaspoon instead and work up from there to your taste. I hope you enjoy them!

      Delete
  6. It's the cookie season again! Can't decide which one to bake :) Love the sound of these spicy cookies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Chinmayie! It is indeed cookie season - such a delicious time and so many scrumptious choices. Happy baking to you!

      Delete
  7. My favorite cookie, just beautiful. I wondered how turbinado sugar would work to roll the cookie balls and you proved it works beautifully, Next batch I'm using that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I really like the sugar crunch and look of the turbinado sugar. The original recipe calls for granulated sugar to roll in, which is also quite pretty in a sort of shimmery way, and is softer in texture. Have a lovely weekend!

      Delete
  8. I tested these cookies for the cookie swap as well. I loved them, but decided to try something different. Hopefully I'll be able to make them again before Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shianne - I look forward to checking out what you baked for the cookie swap! And yes, hopefully more molasses cookies are in your cookie jar before Christmas. I'm happy you stopped by!

      Delete
  9. These look tremendous! Will have to give them a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! This was a fun swap. Love the cookies you shared!

      Delete
  10. These are my absolute favorite cookies as well. Excited to try this recipe. Happy Holidays!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, another molasses lover! I hope you enjoy the cookies, Erina. Merry Christmas to you!

      Delete
  11. Yesss, I love molasses cookies! These look amazing. They make me crave one right now! What a great swap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Beth! This was a really fun cookie swap and so great to meet others in this way. We're still enjoying some delicious treats!

      Delete
  12. Beautiful package and your cookies look so delicious! I have molasses in my pantry but often I don't know what to do with it (not a common ingredient for Japanese cooking). Cookies sounds like an excellent use!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nami! I can't think of anything better to do with molasses than to bake cookies. It's also wonderful stirred into oatmeal. I hope you're enjoying the holiday season!

      Delete
  13. What a fun idea - I signed up to be notified for next year's! Looks like a great recipe full of spicy sweet flavors. Yum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was a terrific cookie swap, Beth, and I'm so happy you signed up! Someone's going to be lucky to get your baked treats. :)

      Delete
  14. Beautiful cookies, perfect for the festive season....though delicious any time! Cannot believe we are well in to 2013! Happy New Year Hannah, hope it is fun, food & laughter filled!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Mairi! I hope your new year is off to a delicious beginning. I agree...it already feels like 2013 has been here for awhile!

      Delete
  15. Love these cookies, molasses is the only thing I live for in the holidays (besides snow...). Where did you get these super cute labels and the striped string? I tried to give people food in jars as gifts, but I was missing some cute stuff like this! And also, is there such a thing as blue kale, because I think I might want to try it! -- Nerd With Taste

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Elle! Thank you for your kind comment. I found the striped string at Target, but you may be able to find it online, too. The labels were created by the lovely bloggers who hosted this cookie exchange, so I just downloaded them to print. I have found cute labels in cooking stores, though, that work well on jars as gifts (and to label pantry items). Homemade gifts are just the best! Blue kale is a less common name for Lacinato kale (also called Tuscan, cavolo nero, black or dino). Totally delicious if you haven't already tried it!

      Delete