I’m having a hard time getting the Christmas spirit this year. I’m sitting here next to my Christmas tree listening to Christmas music. I’ve wrapped a couple of Christmas presents. I have a Christmas tree smelling candle. I’ve been admiring Christmas lights. We’ve watched a couple of Christmas movies. And yet still, I’m not quite feeling that pure joy I usually catch each Christmas. Maybe it’s because there are no peanut butter balls in my freezer yet (definitely happening this weekend, as soon as I find some cookie sheets small enough to fit in my freezer). Or maybe it’s because of the fact that it’s still November.
Either way I had kind of expected it hit me by now. But it just hasn’t. I’m going to just keep trusting that it’s coming (because really, I’m sure it is). But if you’re having the same problems, perhaps these cookies might help. They are crisp and spicy, with warm cinnamon and a gingerbread like flavor. And as much as my mom loves chocolate, she did tell me that these might be some of her new favorite cookies.
I haven’t eaten a lot of gingerbread cookies in the past. Just perhaps the one token gingerbread man per holiday, if that much. I usually find them took spicy or too dry or just, unsavory. But these are gingerbread cookies in all the right ways. The sugar on top adds the sweetness that I sometimes miss in spicier gingerbread cookies. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of cinnamon and ginger and allspice here. But it doesn’t hit you all at once; it’s toned down a bit with the sweetness of the sugar coating and the molasses.
This is the kind of cookie that you bite in to and think “Yeah, that’s pretty good,” as you crunch through it (because yes, these are very crisp cookies), but they more you chew the mellower the flavors get and the sweeter that almost chewy inside seems. I took my first bite of these as they were cooling and I was cleaning in the kitchen and I shrugged my shoulders. But then it hit me the more I ate, oh my goodness these are good, and what started as me just trying half a cookie turned into me eating a cookie and a half right then.
Don’t be deterred as you’re making these. The raw dough isn’t going to taste good. And they’re going to seem a little too crispy right out of the oven. But I promise they’ll soften up a slight bit and those flavors will mellow out and you will have something glorious and fully Christmas season worthy.
Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies
From Baking from My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Wait Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 14 minutes
Makes about 2 to 3 dozen
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch (small or not) black pepper
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat together about 2 minute, until smooth. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating on low speed until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure all ingredients are combined.
4. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic. Freeze for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the 1/2 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.
6. Working with one half of the dough at a time, pinch off pieces of dough and roll into balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Roll each ball of dough in the sugar and then place on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Place the bottom of a glass in the sugar and press each cookie down until it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
7. For softer cookies, bake 8-10 minutes. For crisper cookies, bake 10-12 minutes (or up to 14 depending on your oven). Remove and cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes. Then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.