I never thought molasses cookies would become one of my favorite kinds of cookies, but then there was this time when getting together with friends to play music together, that Elisa brought some very magical cookies.
Elisa’s cookies were so delicious, and they had a big burst of spicy fresh ginger that was WOW. So of course I asked her for the recipe. It was Tom Douglass’ recipe for molasses cookies, from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. When I made the recipe following Tom’s exact instructions, including weighing all the ingredients, and grating the fresh ginger, my cookies came out flat and kind of greasy. And there was no big WOW of ginger. What on earth happened? I quizzed Elisa about how she made her cookies. Did she weigh the ingredients? Heck no. Did she grate the fresh ginger, as specified? Absolutely not. She chopped the ginger. So I tried making these cookies again, but still failed. This recipe was going to make me crazy. So much testing!!!
I finally decided to chop ginger the way I imagined Elisa might do it. Kind of with a laissez-faire attitude. Which meant that the ginger was coarsely chopped, not finely chopped. Now I was getting closer.
My first several batches of these cookies came out really flat with no crinkle, so I very cautiously added a little more flour to each batch. Well, I finally just went for it and added a good extra half cup or so more flour. Although I was still unable to replicate the magical and elusive Elisa-style cookie, I did come up with a cookie that I was very excited about. A cookie with a spicy earthy flavor, crispy along the edges, chewy in the center, and that classic crinkled cookie look. And these cookies stay chewy/fudgy a good long time in an airtight container, although the crispy edge business is only the first day… rolling them in sugar ensures that they will still have a little crunch, even after the crispy edges have mellowed into chewiness.
And guess what? I had Elisa and her family do some taste testing for me! She sent me pictures (they were quarantining).
They all ended up having different favorites, go figure, but Elisa’s son Isaac agreed with me about which one was the best, and that clinched the deal.
Chewy Molasses Cookies with Fresh Ginger
(Adapted from Tom Douglas’s recipe)
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams*) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (86 grams*) molasses
- 1 heaping tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
- 2 1/2 cups (320 grams*) all-purpose flour (I recommend King Arthur brand)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (or a bit more) organic cane sugar (for rolling the cookies)
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and granulated sugar with an electric hand mixer** until light and fluffy, maybe just a minute or two.
- Add in the egg, beating well. Then add the molasses and fresh ginger and beat until well incorporated.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Scoop the cookie dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls (a cookie scoop makes this easy) and place on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least two hours, but longer is better. (Once the cookie dough balls are cold, you can transfer them to an airtight container if you want to let them chill for longer.)
- Preheat your oven to 375° and line a new cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the cookie dough balls in the cane sugar and place on lined cookie sheet, at least 2 inches apart; they will spread! Bake on center rack in oven until the cookies have darkened around the edges and are tall and puffy, about 11 minutes for my oven. Longer = crispier edges, but too much longer and you will dry out your cookies.
- Let cookies cool for 3 to 4 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.
* I have included weights for some of the ingredients. These are the weights that work for me, and are accurate. If you are not using a kitchen scale, the volume measurements should work just fine. Stir your flour to aerate it before spooning it into measuring cup, and use the straight edge of a knife to level the flour.
** Using a hand mixer is better for this recipe, as it makes it easier to completely blend the ingredients efficiently, especially the molasses. It’s just better. Trust me.