December 18, 2008

Chewy Molasses Cookies

My Christmas cookie baking is in full swing and these chewy molasses cookies are always the first on my list. My parents and I discovered this recipe on a trip to Pennsylvania's Fort Necessity National Battlefield. While there we stopped in at the Mount Washington Tavern where we had our first taste of these cookies and snagged a handout with the recipe. This was back in 1980 and I can't remember a Christmas without them since.

These are chewy cookies with a strong molasses flavor and are mildly spiced. I used pearl sugar on them this year but more often we roll them in large crystal sugar. You can use regular granulated sugar but you'll lose the exterior crunch that the larger decorating sugars give. Another change I made this year is to swap the blackstrap molasses for some Muddy Pond sorghum "molasses" I picked up in Tennesse. I couldn't resist the picture of their horse drawn mill. It's tarter but milder in flavor than blackstrap molasses. It was good in the cookies but next year I'm going back to blackstrap, I'm just a strong molasses nut. These cookies are the first on my baking list because they keep so well but they do need to be closed up tightly in a cookie tin or they will get hard and crunchy. They're still good hard and crunchy but it's just not the same. However you make them, I hope these make it into your Christmas cookie collection. (And I hope Alex doesn't find out where I hid the cookie tins. He's eaten nearly a dozen already!)

Chewy Molasses Cookies
Based on a recipe from the Mount Washington Tavern in Farmington, Pennsylvania.
Makes 4 dozen 2-inch diameter cookies

2 cups flour (I use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon if using salted butter or margarine)
3/4 cup unsalted butter (Earth Balance here)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
~1/2 cup of sanding/decorating sugar, coarse raw sugar, pearl sugar or more granulated sugar for rolling

-Sift together the flour(s), baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.
-Beat the butter (or EB) and sugar together until light in color.
-Add the egg and molasses and beat until encorporated, scraping the bowl 1-2 times. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
-Cover the dough with plastic wrap and shape into an even rectangle or square. Chill for at least 4 hours.
-After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
-Line two cookie sheets with parchment and fill a bowl with the decorating sugar of your choice.
-Remove half of the block of dough from the refridgerator and cut into 24 equal sized cubes (~1-inch square). Roll each cube into a ball and coat with the decorating sugar. Place on the cookie sheets with plenty of space between each cookie. Give them more than an inch and a half between each ball, these spread a good deal.
-Bake for 7-9 minutes. Cookies will still be very soft and puffy with a lightly browned bottom.
-Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.
-Store in a tightly closed cookie tin to keep them chewy.

Whiskers on kittens are nice... But one of my favorite things is pink kitten toes.I think I have inadvertently trained Abbie to come to the call of the camera shutter.

I'm adding this to Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies event. This is her second season of collecting Christmas cookie recipes. To see her ever growing collection take a look at:

Eat Christmas Cookies Roundup Part 1 and Part 2


Hannah said...

I -love- the look of that pearl sugar! I've been dying to spring for some, but since I haven't found it locally, I'm waiting until I can think of a number of things to order at once online with it... Where do you find yours?

VeggieGirl said...

OOOOOH, delicious and gorgeous.

Abbie is just too darn cute - I can't stand it!! :-D

Joelen said...

What a great cookie to use pearl sugar! I only would have thought to use it for belgian style waffles but these in cookies look delicious!

doggybloggy said...

wow I would love to try a couple of these cookies - they look chewy!

Ricki said...

Those are great looking cookies--the pearl sugar is so pretty! And yes, those pink feet sure are cute ;)

The Food Librarian said...

Beautiful!!!! I love the pearl sugar on them....looks like snow! :)

PG said...

these look so beautiful with the pearl sugar! lovely!

shellyfish said...

One of my cookie favourites! And they look so fancy! I just love holiday cookie traditionsi

Dawn said...

what a gorgeous photo...and you know I love pink kitty toes too! I always make a point to kiss them

kickpleat said...

ahhh, who doesn't love pink cat toes! those cookies look amazing...i love how the pearl sugar looks. lovely.

TavoLini said...

I love the speckles!!

I just read your comment with the mall link--it is wild that they were together. Stark contrast.

Jude said...

Yum.. It'll have a great crunchy-chewy texture with the pearl sugar.

once in a blue moon... said...

it all looks wonderful, good to see you back in the kitchen!

Maggie said...

Hannah: I came across the pearl sugar in my local produce/Italian market. I really like the look of the pearl sugar on these cookies.

VeggieGirl: Thanks!

Joelen: Thanks, I bought the sugar not knowing what I was I was going to do with it. I really like how it looks on these cookies.

doggybloggy: You'll have to make a batch.

Ricki: Thanks!

The Food Librarian: My son thought it looked like snow as well. He's renamed them snowflake cookies this year.

PG: Thanks!

shellyfish: It's always the traditional cookies that I like best though I can't help trying something new each year as well.

Dawn: Thanks! Abbie has very kissable toes.

kickpleat: Thanks!

TavoLini: I wonder if the link was intentional or not?

Jude: The sugar does give a great crunchy exterior to these cookies. Large crystal decorators sugar or coarse turbinado sugar work well too.

once in a blue moon: Thanks! It's good to be back cooking.

miss v said...

i have never heard of pearl sugar. but it's definitely perfect-looking for these cookies!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

These were always my mom's favorite. And your look perfect! Fantastic photos too, esp. with the kitty.

gastroanthropologist said...

Oh, I love the look of the sugar on these cookies, especially during the's like a sprinkling of snow. I've seen this sugar in all different colors at a few gourmet kitchen/food stores, but the white is probably easiest to find and looks great with the dark cookie.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What pretty cookies! delightful!



Jennifer Ludgin said...

Yum! I've been baking a bunch with Molasses lately...I'll have to try out this recipe!

Love your kitty...mine is always doing the same when I cook :)

Amanda said...

Yet another great recipe. I've always been a fan of chewy molasses cookies, but most recipes I find aren't that chewy. I hope that these live up to your great recommendation and thanks again for another excellent recipe.

L*Joy said...

I have a batch chilling in the fridge right now. I am watching the clock for four hours to pass.
thanks for sharing this recipe.
So far so good. I did bump up the spice quantities as you mentioned it was only lightly spiced. (I like to be a bit heavy handed in my molasses cookies)
thanks again!

L*Joy said...

Oh my goodness. These are just what I was looking for in a chewy cookie!
I just posted them on my blog and linked to you.
Thanks for sharing!