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Molasses Cookies embody all the spicy flavors of the holidays and taste like soft and chewy gingerbread men. If you are only going to bake one cookie this year, it should be this one!
Molasses cookies are one of the holiday cookies that friends and family have come to expect every year. I start making these cookies just before Thanksgiving and continue making them all the way through the New Year. This was one of our very first holiday cookie recipes we shared with the world and was originally posted on October 24, 2016. It has been updated to include new photos, an updated recipe for a smaller batch, and a blonde variation with no molasses.
WHAT ARE MOLASSES COOKIES?
Molasses cookies are really just a ginger cookie. They are kind of like gingersnaps, but soft, chewy, and a little spicier. They taste like buttery gingerbread men.
They cookies pair well with warm apple cider, hot tea, fresh-brewed coffee, and hot chocolate. Whenever I eat these, I feel like I am sitting in front of a cozy fire with snow gently falling outside. Almost like a holiday greeting card scene. If you are old school, like me, I promise the smell of these baking will remind you of simpler holiday times.
The ingredients needed for making ginger molasses cookies are pretty basic and things you probably already have on hand for holiday baking. You need molasses [or corn syrup], sugar, brown sugar, flour, salted butter, butter flavored shortening, an egg, and spices. We like our cookies with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
SECRETS FOR SOFT AND CHEWY MOLASSES COOKIES
One of my secrets to keeping my molasses cookies soft is to use butter-flavored shortening in addition to butter. You don’t lose the rich butter flavor. Shortening has a higher fat ratio than butter so it acts differently in the oven.
There is less spread and less steam during the baking process which means there isn’t moisture loss in shortening.
Feel free to use a more butter flavor shortening and less butter. Those cookies will have less spread and turn out thicker than the cookies in my photos.
I use shortening in my snickerdoodles and sprinkle cookies to keep them soft and chewy.
My second secret is refrigerating the dough for about an hour before baking.
REFRIGERATING MOLASSES COOKIE DOUGH
There are two ways you can do this. You can refrigerate the dough as soon as it comes to together and form the dough balls later, or you can roll them into balls before refrigeration.
While making Italian wedding cookies, my daughter taught me it’s easier to roll the cookie dough into balls before you refrigerate it. The dough is so much easier to scoop when it isn’t solid and the dough balls take on a beautiful round shape and the sugar coating sticks better. Why did it take me 40 years to just learn this?
Cookie dough that hasn’t been formed into balls will need at least 2 hours in the refrigerator for the center of the dough to firm up. Cookie balls only need about an hour in the refrigerator to firm up.
The cookie dough and balls can be refrigerated for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container.
CAN BE MADE WITHOUT MOLASSES!
Some people find the flavor of molasses a bit too harsh but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy all the other holiday spices in one cookie! It’s hard to call them molasses cookies without molasses in them right? So we call them blonde ginger cookies!
They use the same recipe below but are made with corn syrup instead of molasses.
Corn syrup is substituted 1:1 in molasses cookie recipes, ginger cookie recipes, and gingerbread recipes without any problem. Blonde gingerbread makes a beautiful gingerbread house too!
There is no need to adjust baking times or other ingredients.
HOW TO FREEZE
Molasses cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before baking. The dough can be frozen for up to 5 months. Allow the dough to thaw in the refrigerator before baking.
Dough balls rolled in sugar can be frozen in a single and placed into a freezer container or freezer baggie for up to 5 months. Place frozen cookie balls on a cookie sheet and allow to thaw on the counter for an hour before baking.
Baked cookies can be frozen after they have been completely cooled. The cookies will be OK in the freezer for up to 3 months. Any longer than that and they will start to dry out a bit and won’t be as soft. I don’t recommend decorating them before freezing.
MORE HOLIDAY COOKIE RECIPES YOU WON’T WANT MISS!
Soft Molasses Cookies
- Cookie Sheet
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1/4 cup butter flavor shortening all butter can be substituted
- 1/2 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup more for rolling
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses not black strap
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- In a large bowl, cream softened butter [1/2 cup], shortening [1/4 cup], granulated sugar [1/2 cup] and brown sugar [1/2 cup] until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add egg [1 large] and molasses [1/4 cup], mix until smooth.
- In separate bowl, add flour [2 ¼ cups], baking soda [1 teaspoon], salt [1/4 teaspoon], cinnamon [1 teaspoon], ground cloves [1/4 teaspoon], and ground ginger [1/4 teaspoon]. Whisk until blended.
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients.
- Mix just until flour is no longer visible.
- Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, mix in any dough that was scraped off the bottom and sides.
- Roll dough into cookies balls using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into sugar.
- Place sugar-coated cookie balls onto a plate or cookie sheets [spaced at least 2-inches apart] and place into the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 5 days **see notes.
- Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator before preheating the oven. They will spread out more the longer they sit at room temperature.
- Preheat an oven to 375⁰F.
- Place cookie balls onto a cookie sheet 2 inches apart if not already on one and bake for 9 to 11 minutes or just until the centers of the cookies no longer look wet.
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the cookie sheets for 1 minute.
- Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before attempting to stack, decorate, or store.
- This recipe an be doubled.
- Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Molasses cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before baking. The dough can be frozen for up to 5 months.
- Allow the dough to thaw in the refrigerator before baking.
- **Dough balls rolled in sugar can be frozen in a single and placed into a freezer container or freezer baggie for up to 5 months. Place frozen cookie balls on a cookie sheet and allow to thaw on the counter for an hour before baking.
- Dip cookies in melted chocolate or almond bark and cover with sprinkles or other edible decorations if desired.
- A #40 cookie scoop is 1 1/2 tablespoons.
- Shortening can be substituted with softened butter.
- Up to 50% of the butter called for can be substituted with shortening.
- Dough does not have to be formed into balls before refrigeration. Cover the dough before refrigeration so it doesn’t dry out. Allow the dough to sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours or until it is firm all the way through.
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