Man, I am done with winter. Considering the snow and ice storms that have been wreaking havoc on various parts of the U.S., I am sure that I am not alone in saying this. And while I love certain things about winter– like cookies, snow days, and curling up under a comforter– winter is the season that consistently seems to overstay its welcome.
So I have decided that winter is over. Done. Finished. There will be no more snow because I can’t possibly take another storm, I can’t deal with another icy walk to work, and I can’t continue waking up cold in the dark and be happy about it. I have decided that it will be spring soon.
And so in order to usher winter out of our lives, I threw it a going away party during the season’s latest blizzard. To celebrate its departure, I cooked up the most festively winter thing I could think up: molasses spice cookies. I know that I have mentioned previously that my winters are full of rich and hearty comfort foods; cookies, especially ones laced with complex spice mixtures, are one of these comfort foods. And this past week as I plotted winter’s demise, I ended up snowed in with a good number of lonely baking supplies. It was a sign.
These cookies were easy to make, comforting to eat, and scrumptious. The cookies themselves are crunchy, yet springy; firm, yet moist. Their spice complex (which, secretly, was born out of not having all of the necessary spices called for in the original recipe) is highly reminiscent of ginger bread but the molasses adds an awesome earthy dimension.
Molasses spice cookies are definitely a winter treat. And hey, if you happen to eat them with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, I wouldn’t blame you. These are the kinds of cookies that warm you from the inside out and helps prepare you for any cold, snowy traveling you have ahead of you. If a longer winter means more time with this new recipe, then I guess waiting until spring won’t be that bad after all.
Molasses Spice Cookies
from the Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipe Cookbook, found over at Smitten Kitchen, adapted to our spice cabinet!
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
Adjust your oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions. If you are a quick baker, preheat your oven to 375 degrees now. If you are a slow baker, like I am, wait to preheat.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Feel free to do this either by hand or with an electric mixer– if using the latter, it should take about three minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula (or, if you’re like me and don’t own a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon will work just fine).
Add the egg, vanilla extract, and molasses to your whipped butter mixture and beat until combined– about thirty seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients to the mixture and beat until again just combined.
Slow bakers, preheat your oven to 375 degrees now. Pour the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar into a shallow bowl. The original recipe calls for two tablespoons of dough for each cookie, rolled into 1 3/4-inch balls. For slightly smaller cookies, work with about 1-1.5 tablespoons and roll them into slightly smaller balls. Be aware that the dough will be sticky!
Roll each ball of cookie dough in the granulated sugar and place them on ungreased baking sheets about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart from each other. When all of your cookies have been rolled and your oven is preheated, bake the cookies, reversing the trays halfway through baking.
The cookies are done when the outer edges begin to set but the centers are still soft and puffy– this should take about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks or a cool plate with a wide spatula.