Chewy Molasses Cookies

I’ll come clean. I’m a soft cookie man. If you give me a choice between a soft and chewy or hard and crispy, I’ll choose the former every time. The only hard cookie I can think of that I eat willingly are biscotti (soft and chewy with tea or coffee aren’t natural bedfellows) and even then the shower of crumbs sort of annoys me when the pleasure of dunking and dipping is done.

With the price of chocolate going through the roof to a thirty year high (c’mon you’re telling me intervening in the Ivory Coast isn’t in our national interests) I’m increasingly turning to these versatile molasses cookies as my go-to staple for a cookie fix. In our house we aspire to two food rules. One, the Epicurean rule of everything in moderation and two, the Pollan principle of indulgence is okay as long as you make it yourself.

These cookies are simple (Cecilia likes to help) and hard to really screw up (the biggest no-no is over cooking). Photos and recipe (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Jan 2002 issue) to follow.

1/3 c. granulated sugar, plus 1/2 c. for dipping

2 1/4 c. AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

spice mixture
(this can be adjusted and substituted to taste, sometime when the craving strikes I just use what I have on hand):

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp table salt

12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/3 c. dark brown sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. molasses

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  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment. Place the 1/2 c. of sugar in a dish or shallow bowl for dipping. Set aside.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
    Flour and spice mixture
  3. Cream butter with sugars at medium high until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes)
  4. Add vanilla and yolk. Beat for 20 seconds. Add molasses. Beat for 20 seconds.
    Grandma’s dark molasses
  5. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. 20-40 seconds. Stir the batter with a spatula to make sure everything is fully incorporated.
    Ready to roll
  6. Using a tablespoon or teaspoon (depending on how big you want ’em), scoop a heaping mound of dough, roll between your palms then roll in the sugar and place on the parchment.
    Sugary balls of goodness
  7. Bake 1 sheet a time. Rotate halfway through. Here is the key, do not over bake. Bake for about 9-11 minutes (depending on the size you chose) until edges are set, cookies are puffy and cracked, but centers still look a bit underdone. If in doubt, take ’em out.
    Ready to eat
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