Big soft molasses cookies made with ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and molasses ~ we can’t resist these Fall through Holiday bakery style cookies!
I admit it, I’m a sucker for that first molasses cookie of the season. It can’t come too soon as far as I’m concerned. That just gives me more time to bake and enjoy these epic cookies. My regular supermarket jumped the gun a little bit and brought out their boxes of soft molasses cookies last month. Of course I nabbed them and loved them, but knew I could do even better at home.
This soft molasses cookie recipe has all the hallmarks of a great fall through holiday cookie: It comes together easy, there’s no chilling of the dough required, and the sturdy cookies keep and freeze well. Molasses cookies are always winners, but this outsized bakery style version is a superstar.
did you know?
Molasses is a thick, dark, and viscous syrup that is a byproduct of the sugar refinement process, made from sugar cane or sugar beet. It’s a good source of iron and contains antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Among all the sweeteners available to us, I think molasses has the best flavor and the most to offer.
what you’ll need to make (big) soft molasses cookies
Convenient pantry ingredients (you do have molasses in your pantry, right??)
- we used all purpose flour, but give cake flour a try if you’ve got it on hand.
- sugar does double duty by sweetening the cookie dough and providing an extra sparkly crunch on the outside.
- using shortening rather than butter is also key to the texture of these cookies.
- ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
- molasses cookies can range from quite spicy to mild, depending on how much you use. I’d categorize this recipe as having a moderate spice level.
- salt and baking soda
how we make soft molasses cookies
- Cream shortening and sugar together thoroughly, then beat in the egg and molasses.
- Whisk together dry ingredients and slowly add to the wet ingredients until just incorporated.
- Scoop out 1/4 cup sized balls and roll round in your hands.
- Roll the balls in granulated sugar, then place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
- Gently flatten each ball slightly.
- Bake for about 13 minutes. The cookies will look soft. slightly puffed and crackled on the surface: try not to over bake them.
- Rap the baking sheet on a hard surface immediately after it comes out of the oven. This will flatten the slightly puffed cookies. I like to give them a second sprinkle of sugar at this point.
- Let cool briefly on the pan then remove to a rack to cool completely.
why we love these bakery style molasses cookies
These cookies are beefy (and I mean that in the best way!) You really feel like you’re eating something substantial with these, and you won’t be tempted to grab a second one, at least not right away 🙂 They have a slightly crisp exterior which gives way to a soft moist chewy interior. They’ll stay this way for days, too, thanks to the molasses. My daughter Molly is here visiting and we both agreed: these soft molasses cookies are addictive!
what do bakeries have that home cooks don’t?
You might have noticed the almost unnatural softness of your favorite bakery style cookie. That’s because bakeries do use proprietary ingredients including special shortening, emulsifiers and enzymes that help create a very soft texture in cookies. While these cookies don’t have that almost supernatural softness that grocery store cookies have, I prefer the homemade texture with the slight crunch on the outside.
the secrets to soft cookies
- Using shortening instead of butter: using butter in cookies results in a crisper texture, while shortening tends to produce a softer, more tender cookie.
- Baking at 325F keeps the cookies softer as they cook through.
- Slightly underbaking: pull them out when they look a bit under done, they’ll firm up as they cool.
- I portion out larger balls of dough for a higher dough-to-surface-area ratio.
- Transfer the baked cookies to a cooling rack promptly, rather than letting them continue to cook on the hot pan.
- Store baked cookies in an airtight container to keep them soft and prevent them from drying out. Adding a slice of bread or a couple of marshmallows can help maintain moisture.
soft molasses cookie faqs
- What’s the history of molasses cookies?
- Molasses gained prominence during the colonial era when it was a common sweetener and ingredient in recipes. It was imported into colonial America from sugar-producing regions in the Caribbean, where sugar cane plantations were prevalent. Molasses played a significant role in early American culinary traditions, being used in various recipes, including molasses cookies, gingerbread, and molasses taffy. It was also a key ingredient in beverages like rum, which had a thriving industry in the American colonies.
- What does molasses add to cookies?
- Molasses adds sweetness, moisture, and a distinct rich, caramel-like flavor to cookies. It also contributes to their soft and chewy texture.
- What type of molasses is best for cookies?
- For molasses cookies, dark or robust molasses is typically used. It provides a stronger, more intense flavor compared to light molasses. Avoid Blackstrap molasses which is quite bitter.
- What’s the difference between molasses cookies and gingerbread cookies?
- While both types of cookies can contain molasses and similar spices, the primary difference is in texture and shape. Molasses cookies are typically soft and chewy with a crackly surface, while gingerbread cookies are firmer and often cut into various shapes and decorated.
- Can soft molasses cookies be frozen?
- You bet! Let them cool completely, then you can stack them in freezer safe containers, or carefully pack them into heavy duty freezer bags. Be sure to force out excess air before zipping closed. They’ll stay fresh for up to 3 months.
Soft Molasses Cookies
- baking sheets
- stand mixer or electric beaters
for the molasses cookies
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a stand mixer or with electric beaters, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes)
- Add the egg and molasses and combine until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 batches, mixing between each addition. Mix just until fully combined.
- Give the dough a final stir by hand to make sure everything is well incorporated. Portion out 1/4 cup sized amounts of dough and roll round in your palms. Roll each ball in sugar before placing, 3 inches apart, on your cookie sheet. Use the back of a flat spatula to flatten the cookies slightly.
- Bake for about 14 minutes. The cookies will look puffed and crackled across the top. Remove the pan from the oven and give it a sharp wrap on a counter top to flatten the cookies. I lift the pan straight over the counter a few inches and let it drop. Note: I like to add one more light sprinkle of sugar over the hot cookies at this point.
- Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove to a rack.