Updated: Dec 1, 2022
Molasses Spice cookies are everywhere! If you don't have a recipe for these, I've got you covered here but I'm pretty sure your mom, aunt, sister, grandma, neighbor - somebody has a recipe for these as well. Over the years I've perfected this cookie through much trial and error so I'm confident these are one of the best you'll try. These were perfected over many Christmas seasons but it was Christmas 2017, when I pulled out my recipe with all of its notes I scribbled on it that disaster struck.
This was the year I decided I would begin my home bakery somehow in the upcoming year so I wanted my holiday bakes to really wow and impress those I was sharing them with. After hours in the kitchen, baking numerous cookies and delicious treats, I saved these molasses spice cookies for last because they were "the easiest to make". Somehow between my exhaustion and inability to read my own handwriting (come on, you've been there before), I had multiple missteps while baking. After two batches of failed cookies, many tears and some four letter words later, I nearly gave up. "One last batch" I told myself, except I didn't care all that much at this point so I followed my recipe loosely, measuring by eyesight and hand. The first tray I pulled from the oven didn't go in the trash like the others; they came out perfectly! I quickly jotted down all of the eyeballed measurements and changes I made so I wouldn't forget.
When cooled, these cookies are the ultimate hybrid of a gingersnap and a soft, gingerbread cookie and with a slight crinkle to it. Not crisp or hard but soft and chewy, rolled in sugar and filled with the perfect blend of warm spices. They melt in your mouth but are firm enough to dunk right into your hot beverage of choice. There is no greater satisfaction in the kitchen to me than when I've spent hours creating and recreating and the outcome far exceeds my expectations.
I share this story because it reminds me that perseverance is key but so is the understanding that nothing is truly perfect. Mistakes will happen, especially in the kitchen and during stressful times like the holidays. If the worse that happens is a tray of cookies being slammed, er, put in the trash, then we can surely face tomorrow.
Some things to be mindful of when making these cookies:
-These cookies, even after refrigeration can get a bit sticky when rolling them into balls. A simple trick I like to do is to wet my fingertips with water between rolling cookies. You just want slightly damp hands or fingertips-not soaked hands. The tiny bit of water adds slip between your fingers and the cookies so they maintain their round shape. Don't worry about the water, it doesn't change the texture of the cookie as long as you're not drenching them as you roll.
-The longer this cookie dough chills in the refrigerator, the more of a crinkle you'll have to your cookie which isn't necessary at all but does add something to the overall appearance. I recommend 20 to 30 minutes for refrigeration however allowing the dough to chill for 1 to 2 hours is ideal for optimal crinkling.
-Spacing cookies at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheets will avoid spreading and keep the cookies from touching. Should the cookies get a little too close to one another, simply use a large circle cookie cutter or the top of a big, round drinking glass to swirl in a circular motion over the cookie to create a rounded shape.
MOLASSES SPICE GINGERBREAD COOKIES
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
⅓ cup dark molasses
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup cane or demerara sugar (reserved for rolling)
Preheat oven to 375°. In a small to medium sized bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and egg until fully combined. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to butter mixture and until fully incorporated but make sure not to over-mix.
Wrap bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes until dough becomes slightly firm but manageable.
Roll dough into golf ball sized balls and roll in cane sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake for 13 to 15 minutes.