My hubby says he loves molasses cookies, which I, for some unknown reason, barely ever remember to make for him. The recipe below, which I zealously ripped from the latest Penzey's spice catalog, is a really, really good one. With a great combination of warm complex flavors, it somehow has more character than a typical molasses cookie. What kind of character am I talking about? Well, if this cookie could help a little old lady cross the street, I think it would do so without hesitation. One might say it's an Eagle Scout of a cookie, and that's exactly the kind of character you want in a molasses cookie--am I right?
It's definitely sweet enough, though not remotely cloying. And it doesn't bombard you with its spiciness, despite the fact that it contains a healthy amount of ginger, cinnamon, and--that bad boy of the baking-spice rack--ground cloves. The only aspect of the recipe's ingredients that I want to note for you is that I used "robust" molasses instead of light molasses, Grandma's brand Robust variety to be specific. It's described on the jar as being slightly less sweet than their light molasses and, of course, it's a deeper shade of brown. (Note that "robust" molasses does not equal blackstrap molasses, the latter of which is substantially more bitter.)
If you want these cookies to be a bit soft and chewy, bake them the absolute minimum amount of time. I found that there's an extremely fine line here between raw-on-the-inside and baked-just-long-enough to make them come out chewy but not too crunchy. My intention was to go for chewy, but the first couple cookie sheets I baked were in the oven just a wee bit too long. Crunchy or chewy, though, they will be delicious.
This recipe gets a big seal of Jane's Sweets approval. (Yes, I reworded the instructions just slightly here and there. Nothing big.)
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
1 and 1⁄2 cups vegetable shortening, melted and cooled (I melted the shortening slowly in a sauce pan on very low heat, then poured it into a glass-pitcher type measuring cup and put it in the fridge for maybe 15 minutes to speed the cooling. In the original recipe, they say,"Butter does not work well for this recipe, as the cookies won’t get the traditional crinkly look." So, don't substitute butter!)
2 cups granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup molasses (I used "robust"; you could use light instead, but don't use blackstrap)
4 cups All-Purpose flour (unsifted)
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon (I used Vietnamese/Saigon Cassia cinnamon--intense and wonderful!)
1 tsp. salt
1⁄3 cup extra sugar for rolling
To the melted, cooled shortening add the sugar, molasses, and eggs. Beat well.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to
the wet ingredients, mixing with a spoon (or on the lowest speed with your mixer, which is what I did) to incorporate. Chill the dough for at least an hour or more.
Preheat oven to 375°. Using about a tablespoon of dough, form into balls.
Roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets lined with parchment, about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 7-9 minutes. Check at 7 minutees. You want them to flatten out but still be soft. Let the cookies cool for 1-2 minutes before removing them from the pan.
Recipe full disclosure! -- This recipe appears in the December 2009 Penzey's spice catalog and is credited to Linda Aukerman of Findlay, Ohio, who notes that it is "an old family recipe that we've been making for years."
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