These sweet and spicy, soft and chewy Molasses Cookies capture the warm flavors of Christmas so much, they should be an essential part of the holidays!
I’m sure you’ve heard these words uttered so many times already, but I cannot believe another year has sped right past! I also can’t believe I only have these Chewy Molasses Cookies to celebrate the Christmas season with. Or well, actually I CAN believe it, since I didn’t bake anything for Christmas lol. In some ways this year is a bit more productive than 2018, and I suppose I have more behind the scene learnings as well, but I am not satisfied with the small quantity of posts I managed to churn out. Instead of growing my blog, I seem to be shrinking it as the years pass. It makes me a little sad, and also, rather motivated to do better.
I’ve been more prone to giving in to a sense of laziness this year, brought on by a fatigue that I can’t seem to shake off my bones. Anyway, there has been a bit of an upturn in the last few weeks. I have been on a blog planning rampage for 2020. Hopefully I can keep it up when the actual year hits lol. I’ll talk more about all that in my upcoming year-end wrap-up, so let’s get back to the now. Back to these Chewy Molasses Cookies.
You know, the holidays have become kind of a strange thing for me. I used to love the holiday cheer like nothing else, but as I grew older I felt all of that get sucked out of me. I’m not being dramatic, just factual. I’m so exhausted all the time, a lot of things that used to thrill me longer do. I don’t even bother to decorate anymore. Some years, trying to grasp for that Christmas spirit can be more difficult than others, but recently I figured out a little formula that has been working out for me: I started to focus instead on things and people I’m thankful for.
I think it started around two years ago, when I made it a habit to bake holiday treats to express that gratefulness. Since I can’t afford to send fancy gifts, I send baked goods and a note. Although I only have this one Christmas-themed recipe to talk about on the blog this year, it is enough to remind me that Christmas is a season for gratitude and generosity. In fact, it is the perfect opportunity for us to be generous toward the people we are grateful for.
Speaking of giving thanks, I wanted to give a little shoutout to Maya for sending me a big basket of all-purpose flour. I was literally on my way out to buy some flour when the package arrived, so the effect was multiplied by 100 lol. What can I say, when you’re a baker, you go crazy over baking ingredients. It’s only natural!
This has been, by far, my favorite thing they have sent me. I don’t use a lot of the pre-packaged baking mixes, as you know, and they send me a lot of those too. And while I am grateful for them as well, the all-purpose flour is DEFINITELY the best gift for someone like me! I was glad I could use Maya All-Purpose Flour to make these Chewy Molasses Cookies. 🙂
In truth, these cookies are only part of the holiday box I sent out. The other cookies aren’t as directly Christmas-y as these, so I reckon the Chewy Molasses Cookies are the ones that really stand out. Not only do they have a more limited edition reputation, they are hard to ignore right from the scent of them! The sweet yet smoky flavor of the molasses, coupled with the warm spices, captures the taste of Christmas somehow. The soft and chewy body also makes the cookies incredibly addictive. It almost melts in the mouth by the end. Such a good recipe from Savory Simple!
These cookies are rather easy to make, but there is one small caveat in order for you to get the signature cracked and wrinkled top. We’ll get to that a little later since I’ll be walking you through the process real quick. To start, you mix all your dry ingredients in one bowl, including all the lovely spices, and then you cream your butter and sugar and egg yolk in another bowl. You can use a machine, but it’s not strictly necessary. I’m sooo lazy to clean up my mixer attachments so I usually just do everything by hand.
Let’s talk about the molasses for a second. You can use full-flavored or mild molasses in this recipe, but I don’t tend to use blackstrap for baking. The only brand I’ve ever tried is the Brer Rabbit brand. You can see it in the photo above. I bought mine from Shopee because my nearby grocery didn’t have any stock, but as far as I know, Uni-Mart and Landmark should carry them in abundance. If you’re going to make molasses cookies, you NEED to have molasses. There are no substitutes. That’s how it works when the recipe is called Chewy Molasses Cookies. 😀
If you use full-flavored molasses, the flavor will be STRONG. It may not be as sweet as lighter molasses but it is quite ROBUST in terms of that smokey, cane-y flavor molasses imparts. It’s hard to explain. Just know that molasses is the kind of thing that lends itself well to a host of spices like the ones present in this cookie. Anyway, if you want to read more about the different kinds of molasses, here’s a good article.
Once you mix the molasses and the dry ingredients in, you’ll get this soft, beautifully colored cookie dough. Because it was too hot in my kitchen, I ended up having to pop the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. They were simply too soft to handle! Now here’s the caveat I was talking about: The only time you can get that signature crackled top on your molasses cookies is if you bake room temperature dough.
If the dough is cold going into the oven, it’ll only be puffy, but the top will be even. If it’s barely cold, you’ll just get these wrinkly tops but not really that signature cracked top. Any which way, the cookies will be delicious, but the appearances will differ depending on the temperature of your dough when you pop them in the oven. As you can see, mine were baked from the fridge so they are only rather wrinkly. I did warm them up a little by rolling the dough balls between my palms before rolling them in the sugar. I wish they were a little more cracked, but they are pretty as they are nonetheless.
Again, the chilling part here is only necessary if you have dough that’s impossible to shape into rounds because they’re too soft. Otherwise, proceed straight to baking.
And by the way, if you want to skip the sugar rolling part for these Chewy Molasses Cookies, be my guest. I made a small batch of these for my family without rolling the cookies in sugar and they were fabulous either way. I actually wanted to use sanding sugar because they don’t absorb into the dough like normal sugar does. Alas, I couldn’t find any at the time I baked these. If you do have some on hand, just use them sparingly. No need to cover the entire surface with them.
These Chewy Molasses Cookies are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee. That’s how the people I’ve sent these to have been enjoying them as well, I heard. I recommend pairing with a warm cup of black coffee because the sweetness of the cookies will complement the bitterness of black coffee, but you can go ahead and drink it with something sweet too.
Soft and Chewy Molasses Cookies
- 2-1/4 cups 319 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup 170 grams unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 1/3 packed cup, 71 grams dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup 71 grams granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup 168 grams molasses, light or dark
- Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt, until well combined.
- In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream the butter, brown sugar, and the 1/3 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. (It should take around 3 minutes using a machine.)
- Mix in the yolk and vanilla until evenly combined. Make sure to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as you mix to ensure even mixing. Mix in the molasses until fully incorporated. (On medium-low if using a machine for about 20 seconds.) Again, make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix.
- Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Give the dough a final stir to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at the bottom but don't overmix. If the dough is too soft to handle, pop in the fridge for 20 minutes just to make it more manageable, but no longer or you'll lose the signature cracks on the surface. (As I did!)
- Place the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a bowl or shallow dish. Scoop out the dough using a tablespoon-sized scoop and roll into balls with your hands, working fast. Roll the dough balls in the sugar to coat evenly. Do this step in batches, rolling only the amount of dough you will be baking for a specific batch. (Leave the other dough balls on the counter while the other batches bake, then roll the dough in the sugar right before baking.) Place the sugar-rolled cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart.
- Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes, or until cookies are puffy and cracking. The edges should have just begun to set but the center will still be very soft. Rotate the baking sheet front to back midway through. Do not overbake these cookies! They might look raw inside but they'll continue to set as they cool.
- Cool cookies for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. These molasses cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or bag for up to 5 days.