14 December 2007

Molasses Cookies

I read a wide variety of food blogs on a daily basis (an addictive habit, I must admit). When I found out that Susan (at FoodBlogga) was hosting a blog event called Eat Christmas Cookies, I decided that I had to make something. Seemed too fun to pass up. And I wanted to bake the most amazing cookie. I thought of making the rosemary-mint cookies I read about in the LA Times, or maybe something delicate with lots of icing detail. Or perhaps a rolled cookie that would photograph well. To be honest, a million different "impress the masses" recipes were floating around in that brain of mine.

I pondered it for awhile, but it was yesterday when the perfect recipe finally came to me: the molasses cookie. Yup, the very same molasses cookie that everyone makes this time of year. No ma'am, no gourmet twist. No icing, no fancy cookie cutting action. Nothing out of the ordinary, just my regular old recipe. But hear me out.

Yesterday was a terrible day. Work was quite stressful and I was exhausted after a very long day at the office. And yet still behind on my deadlines, ugh. The house was a mess, I still had loads to do before the weekend, and it was dark and cold outside. An icky day that was turning into a yucky evening as well. However: I put aside the cleaning, the dinner-making, the million other chores. Instead, I put on some Christmas music, rolled up my sleeves, and started pawing through the cabinets for my jar of molasses. Days like this can almost be salvaged by the presence of warm molasses cookies.

I've always loved the taste of ginger and molasses together, the spicy and sweet combination. Gingerbread cake, bars, gingersnap cookies, I enjoy them all. I even have a great recipe for gingerbread waffles that I'm dying to try this winter. But most of all, I love the molasses cookie. Soft and chewy with crispy edges and a nice sparkly coating of sugar. My mother always imprinted hers with wooden cookie press, so they came out of the oven with a pretty concentric-circle pattern.

Molasses cookies are definitely a family favorite, and probably why I find them so comforting. I try to make these as close as possible to my Mom's recipe, although I don't have that fancy schmancy cookie press she uses. I tend to add an extra bit of ginger (spicy spicy spicy!) and I like to roll my cookies in raw sugar – just a bit more glittery and festive that way, methinks.

So here's my entry, my favoritest cookie of them all: the humble molasses cookie. A basic, uncomplicated, and yet oh so soothing and homey recipe. Totally satisfying. There's a reason this cookie is a Christmas classic, my friends. And that's why I went personal for my entry instead of flashy.


Molasses Cookies

2 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ginger
¾ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
¾ c. shortening
½ c. dark brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. molasses

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium bowl, sift and mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugars, until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg, vanilla, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Roll dough into small balls, and roll balls in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake 11-13 minutes, then cool on racks. NOTE: be careful not to overbake! They are done when the centers are still soft and puffy.


Gretchen Noelle said...

I would *certainly* agree that reading all the food blogs daily becomes rather addicting! These look delicious. I love molasses and ginger together. You non-flashy cookie looks terrific to me!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

There is no need whatsover for you to explain, Nemmie. These cookies do what Christmas cookies should do: evoke warm memories of family, make you feel merrier, and bring solace after a stressful day. I'm oh-so-glad you chose to submit these rather than a razzle-dazzle cookie. You can save that one for New Year's Eve. :)-Susan

Janet Hanseth said...

Plain, humble molasses cookies are my favorites too. And they do look pretty with the sugar on top. Yum.

Kayte said...

wow. i must admit that i've never made molasses cookies before. i don't think i've even eaten them before! but they look incredible and i happen to have all of the ingredients i need! i am supposed to go to my mom's house tomorrow for a huge baking session and i am bringing this recipe with me. so the sugar you rolled them in is raw sugar? is that the big crystals?? i need to get some of that! i think it looks so pretty!

Julie said...

I've been looking around for a molasses cookie recipe that makes soft, chewy cookies. Yours sounds really perfect, but I noticed you use shortening in the recipe instead of butter. In your opinion, does that make them more or less chewy? Ever tried it with butter? I really need to get up on my food science!

Nemmie said...

Julie: shortening will make them more moist and a puffier. Funny thing: I ran out of shortening, and used 1/2 butter in the cookies pictured. They are much flatter than usual :)

Anonymous said...

These are very similar to the ones my grandmother made for Christmas every year. She'd come each year with a Wm. H. Blocks box full of these. I still make them, although her recipe calls for melting the shortening. I never understood that.
I recently started using the bigger crystal sugar to roll them in, too. I love the extra little crunch it gives mine.

Deborah said...

You know what? I don't necessarily like molasses, but these sound and look so good right now!!

Kayte said...

ok, i know i've already commented on this entry. but i made these cookies to put in my holiday tins and they have become my new favorite cookie. seriously. they are amazing. i have to make more because i ate too many! i'm actually really excited to make them again cause that means i get to eat more.

Julia said...

I was looking for a nice simple cookie, in contrast to the richly flavored frosted ones I made earlier so a friend (blueberriesandlobster.com) pointed me to this. It was perfect. The cookies were flavorful and had a great slightly soft/cakey texture. I rolled mine in regular sugar and in red sanding sugar (for holiday pizazz). Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Iwas looking for a molasses cookin recioe similar to this that my grandmother and mother use to make. I looks the same but their's had a thumb print of jam in the middle. Do you know of such a recepie? Please help I have been searching for years
Thank you

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