How to Make Molasses Cookies
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Is there anything better than homemade molasses cookies? Learn how to make molasses cookies with our top-rated recipe and step-by-step tips from an expert baker.
The perfect molasses cookie, with plenty of spice and a moist, chewy texture, is something you can master at home. This recipe—and helpful tips—will teach you how to make molasses cookies that your family will request all year long.
What Is a Molasses Cookie?
Molasses cookies date back to the late 1800s. Home cooks adapted old recipes for gingerbread cake to make small, flat cookies for special occasions. They originally were spiced only with ginger, but recipes have evolved to include a blend of ginger and other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
In this cookie, molasses brings both sweetness and flavor. Molasses is a thick, liquid by-product of sugar making. It gives these cookies a beautiful brown hue and homey taste, made even more irresistible by a blend of warming spices.
What Does Molasses Do to Cookies?
Besides adding flavor, molasses will make your cookies more soft and moist. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts and holds onto water. Invert sugars like molasses are especially good at drawing in and holding onto moisture in baked goods, even after they’re baked.
How to Make Molasses Cookies from Scratch
This top-rated recipe for Giant Molasses Cookies was submitted by Kristine Chayes of Smithtown, New York. “My family always requests these soft molasses cookies,” she says.
- 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 3/4 cup coarse sugar
Tools You’ll Need
- A stand mixer or a handheld mixer like this one from Cuisinart, which is gorgeous, will stand the test of time and has a built-in storage case.
- A cookie scoop like this, which makes working with sticky cookie dough so much easier. And it helps ensure your cookies are all the same size.
- A large baking sheet like the nonstick sheets designed in Taste of Home‘s Test Kitchen.
Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Place the softened butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cream them together until they’re light and fluffy. (Here’s how to cream butter and sugar the right way.)
Step 2: Add the eggs and molasses
Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the molasses until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients
Whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually mix this into the butter-sugar mixture, and stir to bring everything together. Fold in the chopped pecans if you’re using them.
Step 4: Scoop the dough
Use a large cookie scoop to make two-inch balls of dough (if you have no scoop, shape the dough balls by hand.) Roll each ball in the coarse sugar. Arrange them on large, ungreased baking sheets, spaced 2-1/2 inches apart.
Step 5: Bake the cookies
Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes; the cookies should have crinkled tops and be slightly firm at the edges. Remove the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
Tips for How to Make Molasses Cookies
The Secret to Getting a Chewy Cookie
The feel of your teeth sinking into that soft and chewy texture is one of the best parts of a molasses cookie! The moisture that molasses draws in is partly to thank. Another trick to get chewy cookies is to slightly underbake them. Take your cookies out of the oven when the edges are just set but the middles are still soft—this is easier to accomplish with large cookies like the ones in this recipe. As the cookies cool, the centers set without losing all their softness.
How to Amp Up the Spice
These cookies have a delicious, spicy flavor thanks to plenty of ground ginger and cinnamon, but you can give them a little extra oomph! Try adding 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom, which nicely complements the ginger and cinnamon with its own unique and warming flavor. Or bring a little heat to your cookies with a pinch of black pepper or chili powder. Add a really potent bite by mixing in a 1/2 cup or so of diced, candied ginger.
Is There a Difference Between Light and Dark Molasses?
Though light and dark molasses come from the same boiling process used to refine sugarcane, they are different in color and flavor. Light molasses comes from the first boiling. It’s a little lighter in color and has a sweet, mild flavor. Dark molasses is created during the second boiling. It’s darker and less sweet than light molasses. This is the molasses normally used in traditional gingerbread.
Blackstrap molasses is created at the end of the refining process. It is a thick, black syrup, and much more bitter than dark molasses.
Which Molasses Is Best for My Cookies?
For that flavor and color we look for and love in molasses cookies, use light molasses. It’s the variety you’re most likely to find on store shelves. If you do find dark molasses, you can give it a try for a darker colored and slightly less sweet cookie. Blackstrap molasses will give an unpleasant, bitter flavor to your cookies, so it’s best not to use this variety.
Technically, any molasses will work in your cookie. They will behave the same way in the baking process.
Why Do My Molasses Cookies Go Flat?
There are a few possible culprits behind flat cookies. One is that you’re placing the dough on cookie sheets that are too warm. This causes the butter in the dough to begin melting before the rest of the cookie begins to set. Let your pans cool between batches. Also, don’t grease your cookie sheets, as this can also cause them to spread. Use nonstick sheets or line the pans with parchment paper.
Finally, if your dough has too little flour or too much moisture, it will be harder for the cookie to keep its shape. Try adding more flour a tablespoon at a time, or decreasing the liquids (in this recipe, that would be the molasses) by a tablespoon or two.