Molasses Spice Cookies. If any single food item can define a season, it has to be this mixture of molasses and spices that heralds in late fall to early winter. Warm, earthy, just a bit soft and chewy, these Molasses Spice Cookies are perfection. If I do say so myself! And I do! 🙂
Long ago I dumped an old Molasses Spice Cookies recipe for this one and have never looked back. Luckily, I always write the source of recipes on my cards so I know this came from “American Classics” by Cook’s Illustrated, not Grandma or Great Aunt Edith or any other family member. No matter, Molasses Spice Cookies area family recipe now!
About Molasses Spice Cookies:
I think you’ll love Molasses Spice Cookies as much as our family does. The signature cracks in Molasses Spice Cookies are charming but don’t confuse them with the much crispier Gingersnap. I do have a recipe for Gingersnaps, too, though if that’s your jam. In Molasses Spice Cookies, there is just a bit of crispness on the outside edges that gives way to a rich, chewy interior. The blend of spices hits all the key flavor notes without being overwhelming. If you haven’t made these cookies for a while, try this recipe.
I sometimes get a bit fancier and add a few M&M’s – they’re really fun in these cookies. (Nab them from your kid’s Halloween candy if you’re making them in the fall. Did I just say that “out loud?”) Some people like to add raisins, either the dark or the golden. I may also roll them from time to time in sanding sugar rather than plain old granulated for a little more sparkle.
Other cooks sometimes dip half the cookie into a chocolate or white chocolate mixture and sometimes add sprinkles. I have a hard time getting behind that, preferring the classic. It’s a little like putting a tutu on a bulldog – admittedly they are not a “pretty” cookie; they’re just what they are. I do see this recipe sometimes glazed with 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons of rum, drizzled over the cooled cookies. That I have been meaning to try! Let them stand for 15 minutes before serving.
But just as is, they’re still a humble, frugal way to put sweets on the table using pantry ingredients. I’ve heard that Molasses Spice Cookies were a favorite of many pioneer women that came before us, a way to brighten up the long, dark winter months when there was very little to get by on.
Making Molasses Spice Cookies:
If you think you’d like to make these cookies often, measure out the spices into several small dishes while you’re at it and then place the extra concoction of spices into Ziploc bags. You’re ready to go for the next time. I generally make the balls, roll in sugar, place on a baking sheet, covered and refrigerate them, then reroll and bake the next day. Something magical happens with an overnight rest and the double rolling in sugar.
The cookie dough freezes well, too. Freeze the sugared balls then gang them together in a Ziploc. Reroll in sugar and bake from the frozen state – you’ll need about a minute longer cooking time.
And do use a scoop if you can – having the cookies all the same size ensures each will be done at the same time – and the bake time is critical to get just the right texture. I had to scoop twice for each cookie because I only had a tablespoon scoop, and they came out to a perfect 1 1/2″ ball – so I’m assuming a two-tablespoon scoop is just right.
Spray or oil your measuring cup and the molasses will slide out easily (make sure to thoroughly clean the top of the molasses bottle or you may never get it open again!) and dip your clean hands into sugar before rolling to help prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. And have fun – little hands make the best “rollers” and kids love this job!
Saving Money on Molasses Spice Cookies:
As far as the most bang for your buck, this is THE time of the year to stock up on baking goods and specials. Anywhere from pre-Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas, there will be specials and plenty of coupons, if you use them on baking items. See my list of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Savings. There may be some minor sales around Valentines on baking goods, but the next big sale will be Easter.
Whenever I bring anything into the house that contains flour, it goes right into my freezer for three days; that eliminates the possibility of any little peskies coming into the house along with the bag of flour or the flour related item.
I rarely, if ever, see Molasses on sale. It’s not super pricey though and once you have a bottle of Molasses, it will keep literally for years in your cupboard. Just make sure that there is no sticky residue on the top of the bottle or the lid or the lid will stick so tightly you’ll never get it open again.Print
Molasses Spice Cookies
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 22 to 24 cookies 1x
- Category: Desserts
- Cuisine: American
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- 12 tbsp butter, softened (see note)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup molasses
- 1/2 cup sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and adjust rack to middle. You’ll need to bake one cookie sheet at a time to get the best “crackling.” Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place about 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow container.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl of a standing mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar and the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If using a hand mixer, beat a bit longer.
Reduce to low and beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Beat in the molasses until fully incorporated, scraping down as needed. With mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until almost fully combined, about 20 seconds. Finish by hand. The dough will be very soft.
Working with enough dough at a time to make about four balls, roll into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2″ in diameter balls. Place in sugar. Toss to coat. (Optional: Reform into ball shape and gently reroll in sugar.) Transfer to parchment lined sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. The cookies have a lot of “spread” in the oven. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are beginning to set around edges and tops are cracked but still puffy and beginning to crack, about 10 minutes. Rotate sheet halfway through. The cookies will seem underdone in the center, and the inside of the cookie will appear raw in the cracked areas. This is how you want them – do not overbake – they will continue to cook once removed from the oven.
Cool on baking sheet for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- The right temperature for the butter is pretty important to this recipe. I remove from the fridge the night before and set out at a cool room temperature. Butter should be able to bend without cracking or smooshing. See photo below.
- You’ll have extra sugar which should be discarded if not sifted and used in another recipe immediately. Having rolled the raw cookie dough in the sugar, it is not safe to store. Be stingy with the amount if using an expensive sugar like a sanding sugar. It’s better to have to add more sugar to the container than waste excess.
Keywords: Cook's Illustrated, Cookies, Desserts, Family Recipe, Freezes Well, molasses
Today, I’ll be linking up to Throwback Thursday No 15, Thanksgiving Edition, of which I am now (Yay!) a cohost! Stop over and see all the great recipes and party ideas (Push the little blue rectangle) and check out the other co-hosts, too: Quinn of Dad Whats for Dinner & Alli of Tornadough who started it all and Meaghan from 4 Sons are Us. Hope to see ya there!
I’m also dropping by to Angie’s Fiesta Friday no. 94! I’ve already seen some of the great recipes featured there this week! Wow! Thank you, Angie, for putting on this extravaganza! Also thanks to the co-hosts, Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Stef @ The Kiwi Fruit!
I’ll bring this by to Freedom Fridays, too, hosted by Love Bakes Good Cake (that’s so true, isn’t it?) She’s teamed up with My Turn for us and With a Blast to bring you the best “no rules” party around!
I’ll also be linking to Saucy Saturdays No 20 – a food and craft link party extraordinaire!!