Molasses cookies, with their rich, deep, sweet and spicy flavors, are one of our favorite fall and winter treats around this house.
But even with all of those amazing flavors and soft and chewy texture, molasses cookies don’t get a lot of love. But a few extra ingredients, like orange sugar, black pepper (the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness) and crystallized ginger give them a makeover that will make sure these are never the unloved ugly ducklings at the party.
Ginger Orange Molasses Cookies
Yield: Makes about 22 cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated American Classics
- 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz) granulated sugar, plus 2/3 cup for rolling
- 2 tsp grated orange zest
- 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) softened unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup packed (2 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (6 oz) dark molasses
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, heat the oven to 375 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, blend the orange zest and 2/3 cup of sugar for about 10 seconds, or until sugar is uniformly light orange. Spread sugar a cake pan for dipping later, and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined, set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add crystallized ginger, beat on medium for about 10 seconds, or until evenly distributed. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Stop mixer, add the yolk and vanilla, then step the speed back up to medium just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Reduce speed to medium-low, add the molasses and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Stop the mixer, add the flour mixture and beat on low until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl down once. Give the dough a final stir by hand to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at the bottom. The dough will be soft.
- Using a tablespoon measure, scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it between your palms into a 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch ball. Drop the ball into the cake pan with the sugar, and roll until lightly coated, dusting off the excess. Set each ball on a prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake, one sheet at a time and reversing the position of the baking sheet halfway through baking (from front to back), until the cookies are browned, still puffy, and the edges have begun to set, but the centers are still soft (the cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem underdone) about 11 minutes. Do not overbake.
- Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack; cool the cookies to room temperature and serve.
This recipe only makes 22 cookies, and with room in the stand mixer bowl leftover. You might as well do yourself a favor and make a double batch. For serious.