In college, I was known as the Cookie Fairy. Seriously. I would go on these baking rampages, making two or three batches of cookies and then packaging them up and randomly leaving them in people’s mailboxes (so as to not gain 800 pounds myself). See, I’ve always loved baking but had really only tried simple recipes like my mom’s cookies or the occasional 9×13 cake, so I made those A LOT. Now I’ve branched out a lot, and somehow just never get around to cookie-making anymore, which is sad. Because I’m going to let you in on a secret—these might be the best cookies ever.
I’ve never really loved ginger cookies, mostly because they’re too hard and too ginger-y. I like my cookies soft, just a little underdone. And these are perfect. They’re easy, fast, and always a crowd-pleaser. And since we’ve mostly switched to using oil instead of butter-flavored shortening for our cookies, they’re really not too bad for you [author’s note: they really are better with shortening; try Spectrum organic butter-flavored shortening]. The recipe below is a single batch, which is like 15-20 cookies; we often double it so it yields more (I have a big family). They freeze well too. Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the brown sugar and oil together. I swear by wooden spoons for making cookies—I couldn’t tell you why, but they always turn out better. Add the molasses and egg, stir together. On a side note, molasses is delicious by itself on toast, scones, etc. too. Once the wet ingredients are mixed, add a cup of the flour (2 c. if you’re doubling the recipe) and all the spices, salt, soda, etc., then mix that in well. Add the rest of the flour a half cup at a time, stirring it in between adding to make sure the dough doesn’t get too dry. You’ll want it to be wet enough to hold together in balls, but not really greasy since the cookies won’t set up right. Some people like to chill the dough for a while, but I’ve never done this. Begin rolling the dough into small balls, rolling each ball in white sugar before placing on a baking sheet. Don’t make the dough balls too big or they won’t set up properly. Smaller is better for these cookies—maybe the size of a golf ball or a little bigger. Bake for around 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them and rotate halfway through…some ovens it should be more like 9 minutes (the one I used in college) and others will need more time (it’s more like 11-12 minutes in my current oven).
Pull them out when they’ve puffed up, spread out a little, and cracked on top. You want to pull them out before they get fully done, because they’ll still bake on the sheet a little. And you want them to stay soft and moist. I sometimes give the cookie sheet a little bang on the stovetop when I pull it out, which causes the cookies to settle and flatten just a little.
So good! My mom also uses part whole wheat flour to make them even healthier…I haven’t yet for this recipe, but I know it would be good.
Best Ever Molasses Cookies
Makes 15-20 cookies; we always double the recipe
- 3/4 c. butter-flavored Crisco or Spectrum organic butter-flavored shortening (you can use a little under 3/4 c. vegetable oil instead, but it really is better with shortening)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. molasses
- 2 1/2 c. flour (or less)
- 1/2 t. cloves
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. ginger
- 1/2 t. salt
- 2 t. baking soda
- White sugar for rolling the dough in
Cream shortening or oil with brown sugar with a wooden spoon, then stir in the molasses and egg. Add 1 c. flour (2 c. if you’re doubling the recipe) with all the spices and soda, stir it in. Then stir in the rest of the flour until it’s the right consistency. Form into balls (about golf ball size or a little bigger) and roll in white sugar. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes (depending on your oven)—you want them underdone a little. When you remove from the oven, lightly bang the cookie sheet on the stove to get the cookies to fall a little…this gives them the chewy interior that makes them amazing (vs. puffy cakey).