I don’t know about you, but I like my cookies to be chewy. I think a cookie that snaps is an accident, and the cement-like nature of gingerbread threatens to break my sweet tooth altogether. But while I could just skip out on these treats, the Christmas season isn’t complete without a little molasses.
So where to? Last week I was browsing the Cooks Illustrated Holiday Baking Issue and skeptically read that they had created a chewy molasses cookie. Could it be true? On Saturday I set out to find out.
Before you begin, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in a 8- or 9-inch cake pan. To prepare the dough, begin by whisking flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. As you can see from the picture, I skipped ahead and included the egg yolk in while creaming the butter and sugars together. This didn’t seem to make a difference, but if you want to follow the recipe exactly, add it later. Reduce speed to medium-low and and vanilla (this is when you should add the yolk if you haven’t already). Beat until incorporated.
Add molasses and beat until fully incorporated, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture in batches and beat until just incorporated, scraping bowl as needed. Give dough a final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. The dough will be very soft- don’t worry, you did it right!
Scoop a small amount of dough into your palm and roll into a 1 1/2-inch ball. I used a small cookie scoop but a heaping teaspoon measure will do. If the dough is sticking to your hands (which it probably will be) wet your hands with water and then shape the balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use wide spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve.
So, what did I learn? The folks at Cooks Illustrated were right (as usual). These cookies packed a bit of spice, a lot of chew, and just enough crunch around the edges to win over the snap-lovers.
Molasses Spice Cookies
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Holiday Baking 2011
2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup molasses (about 6 ounces), light or dark – use a liquid measureInstructions
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in 8- or 9-inch cake pan.
Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.
Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days.)