These soft molasses cookies are everything Christmas cookies should be: warm spices, soft middles, and a crispy exterior.
Is there anything better than a deeply spiced, warming, gooey-centered and crispy-edged soft molasses cookie? With gingerbread flavors reminiscent of my dark and intense gingerbread cake, and those beautiful sparkles from rolling them in sugar, I honestly can’t think of a Christmas cookie I like better.
I get that molasses cookies may not be your favorite holiday cookie; I get that it may not be a lot of people’s favorite holiday cookie. They’re intense and maybe a bit old-fashioned for some people.
I suppose it’s understandable, when you have peanut butter blossoms and colorful sugar cookies and all manner of pepperminty chocolate things competing for attention. The humble molasses cookie does often get pushed to the side. I get it.
But not today.
Today we are going to celebrate this unassuming, crackly brown cookie for all the glory that it is: a warmly spiced, soft-centered, crispy-edged, sparkly hug. That’s right, a cookie hug.
I don’t know when I fell in love with molasses cookies, but I’m pretty sure this love will last a lifetime. They’re just so comforting and friendly, yet a little spicy. There’s a lot of subtlety to them, a lot of intrigue. I’m a big fan of intrigue in my baked goods.
Not so much in my Christmas movies. Recently, Brian and I have subjected ourselves to the ever-growing gamut of Netflix original Christmas movies, where there is a decided lack of intrigue but a bounty of hilariously bad plotlines. No, we’re not one of the 53 people whom Netflix recently trolled for watching “A Christmas Prince” 18 days in a row.
Luckily, they haven’t yet trolled people who watch Gilmore Girls 18 days in a row.
Listen, the holiday season can be tough. It’s always been my favorite time of year, but sometimes it can be a little much – a little too much sparkle, a little too much sugar, a little too much socializing, a little too much travel. For us this year, definitely too much travel (we’re talking every weekend since — and including — Thanksgiving).
Sometimes all I want to do in the middle of this holiday marathon is sit under a blanket with my flannel PJ pants on, a plate of soft gingerbread molasses cookies in front of me, a large coffee in my lap, and binge watch something so I don’t have to think or interact. Hopefully I’m not alone. We all do a lot! We deserve some me time.
And we deserve these cookies. The good thing is, in the world of cookies, there are difficult ones and easier ones, and these are of the “easier ones” type. No softening butter or separating eggs or refrigerating time necessary.
Baking Soft Molasses Cookies
All we do is whisk the dry ingredients together, then beat the wet ingredients together, then combine them.
You could make the cookies without a mixer if you prefer, since we’re using melted butter in the dough. You’d just whisk the wet ingredients together vigorously, then add in the dry and combine with a rubber spatula until a dough forms. If the dough seems very soft and sticky, refrigerate it for an hour until it is firm enough to scoop.
For best texture in the final baked cookies, however, I like to use a mixer to incorporate the most air into the dough, resulting in crisp edges and soft interiors. It’s important to beat the butter, molasses, brown sugar and egg together until the mixture becomes a lighter color, reminiscent in both color and texture of smooth peanut butter.
Then, with the mixer on its lowest possible speed, add the whisked dry ingredients slowly so your flour doesn’t fly all over the kitchen. Stop once you have a cohesive dough! Again, if the dough seems extremely sticky, you can refrigerate it for an hour and it should be scoopable, but I usually find my dough to be just fine for scooping and rolling without the need to refrigerate.
Scoop the molasses cookie dough by large tablespoons (I use this 1.5 tablespoon #40 cookie scoop and love it), roll them into balls, coat them in sugar, and then bake for 10 minutes or less.
Emerge with crackly, spicy, softest-ever molasses cookies, highly reminiscent of gingerbread. Congratulate self.
The other great thing about these cookies? They stay fresh and soft for a super long time. Like 5 days long. Just keep them well wrapped (I keep them in a small tupperware container) so they aren’t exposed to a lot of air, and these little bundles of joy will stay soft for-EVER.
Can I freeze the cookies or the cookie dough?
Yes to both! You can freeze the baked molasses cookies, well wrapped in plastic wrap in a freezer bag, and then set them out on the counter to defrost whenever you want them! Or, freeze the dough after you scoop and it form into balls, so you can have warm cookies on demand. Just bake from frozen and add 1-2 minutes to the bake time.
You can see in the photo below the difference between a cookie baked without freezing the dough, and a cookie baked from frozen. Both are soft and delicious, but the ones baked from frozen are slightly thicker in the center. I will never turn down a good gingerbread cookie so I like them both 🙂
I’m thinking these would be the perfect homemade Christmas cookie gifts in little bags or jars, if you’re into that sort of thing. I know I wouldn’t mind receiving one.
I wish you the most wonderful, stress-free, worry-free, cookie-filled Christmas and holiday season!
Soft Molasses Cookies
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch cardamom (optional)
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter melted and cooled
- ⅓ cup (67g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50g) brown sugar packed
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup (80ml) molasses
- ¼ cup (50g) Coarse or granulated sugar, for rolling cookies (I use turbinado sugar)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together melted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, and molasses with a hand mixer or stand mixer, on medium to medium-high speed, until fluffy and well combined — about 2 minutes. It should turn a lighter brown and be the color and texture of smooth peanut butter.
- While mixer is running on its lowest speed, slowly add flour mixture a bit at a time to the molasses mixture. Don’t dump the whole thing in at once or you’ll have flour everywhere. Stop when the mixture is just combined – don’t overbeat.
- Put coarse or granulated sugar in a bowl or on a plate. Use a tablespoon cookie scoop or spoon to scoop out dough, then roll into a ball between your hands. Roll the ball in the sugar until it is coated, then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping balls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are puffed and spread, and cracks have developed on the tops. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
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Gah. Those crinkle crackles. They get me every time.