These ginger molasses cookies are the latest success in my ongoing efforts to master cookie baking. So far, I’ve found recipes I love for chocolate chip, shortbread and now these ginger cookies. Not an extensive or impressive list, admittedly, but, the truth is, I don’t really love cookies. I rarely crave sweets and when I do I always seems to want some sort of elaborate cake. Which, perhaps for obvious reasons, I rarely actually make. I know, cookies are far more practical for satisfying a sweet tooth than cakes. They are much faster to make, they often require only one bowl, and they allow for a mixture of textures that is uncommon in all but the most elaborate cakes. Even so, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would bake cookies, when they could be baking a cake instead. If you are going to eat sweets, why not eat something really special. I have a tendency towards this sort of all or nothing thinking.
And yet, for some reason I have always felt like baking cookies is an essential skill – one that I need to acquire. Perhaps, on some level, I am anticipating a hypothetical moment in the future when I may have children to bake for and with. Of all the expectations that are placed on women if they are to be “good mothers”, most of which I maintain a healthy skepticism of, I seem to have internalized the imperative to bake good cookies. This is important, right? Because children love cookies, don’t they? But – do children love ginger molasses cookies? Probably not. Well, let’s just say, spice cookies are a more sophisticated offering.
I have wanted to make homemade ginger cookies for quite some time because they remind me of a great uncle, my grandmother’s brother, that we used to visit as children. He had a big friendly dog, and an old fashioned whetstone wheel in his backyard (don’t ask me for what purpose) that inevitably inspired my sister and I to rounds of “There’s a hole in the bucket” - so we could properly act out the “then sharpen it” verse. And he always had a box of ginger snaps for us. Now, this recipe does not quite re-create the rock hard store bought cookies my great uncle would give us (they were more of a gingersnap than a soft molasses cookie), but they have the same gingery flavour. These cookies have soft chewy insides, and crunchy exteriors, made crunchier by sprinkling raw sugar on top.
I intended to make Ina Garten’s “ultimate ginger cookies”, but ran out of all-purpose flour so I made some adjustments to the flour composition. I almost never tinker with the foundations of baked good recipes, because baking is too much of a science, but in this case the risk paid off. Finally, I omitted the crystallized ginger, which I couldn’t find at my grocery store, and amped up the spice level by adding a bit more of each spice than was found in the original recipe. I like a good punch of flavour, even from a cookie.
Ginger Molasses Cookies
Makes 2 Dozen Cookies
- 1 cup & 2 tablespoons bread flour
- 1 ¼ cup & 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup & 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- Raw sugar, for rolling the cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift the flours, wheat gluten (if using), baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves and salt. Whisk together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, oil, and molasses. Mix in the egg. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined.
- Scoop the dough with a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon and roll into 1 3/4-inch balls. Flatten them with your fingers and press the tops of each cookie in the raw sugar and place them on the sheet pans.
- Bake one sheet of cookies at time (if you bake both sheets together, the cookies on the bottom will taste good, but will not have the pretty crinkles) for 12-15 minutes each (12 if you want softer cookies, 15 if you want crisper cookies). Remove from the oven and let them cool on the sheet pans for a coupe of minutes, until firm enough to transfer to wire racks. Cool completely and pack into a container.
- When removed from the oven, the cookies will be very soft. They will firm up as they cool.