I love making cookies at Christmastime because 1. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying presents and 2. Anything homemade automatically trumps anything store-bought. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time (or the steady hands) to make icing and meticulously squiggle happy faces on gingerbread men. Also, let’s be honest—no one ever eats more than one iced cookie because the sugar content is through the roof.
Instead, I turned to this recipe for a spiced molasses cookie developed by my friend Eric Vellend, who in turn adapted his recipe from American cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. It’s like a very delicious broken telephone.
When I first made these cookies, I misread the recipe and used freshly grated ginger rather than ground ginger (in my defense, Chinese kitchens are way more accustomed to cooking with fresh than ground ginger). In the end, it didn’t turn into the ginger snap it was supposed to. Instead, I got an incredibly moist, fluffy, and chewy cookie, with an intense fresh kick of ginger. I loved it, my family loved it, and that’s why I kept doing it.
The original recipe also calls for brown sugar, but you can make your own by simply adding a Tablespoon of fancy molasses for every cup of sugar. The recipe uses molasses and sugar anyway, so you might as well use a little extra and save yourself from having to buy an additional ingredient.
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup and 1 Tablespoon fancy molasses
1 large egg
- In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper.
- In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and 1 Tbsp of molasses on medium speed until it reaches a fluffy consistency. Turn down the speed and add the rest of the molasses and egg. Continue mixing until everything is well incorporated.
- Carefully add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until just blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.
- Preheat the oven at 350°F.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1-Tablespoon cookie scoop (or measuring spoon), form balls of cookie dough and roll them in granulated sugar.
- Place the balls on the baking sheet 3 inches apart from each other. Flatten the balls with the back of a spatula until they reach about 2 inches (5 centimetres) in diameter and about 1 centimetre thick. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges start to brown but the centre is still soft. Let cool for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a metal rack to cool completely. (The centre of the cookie will solidify a bit more but still remain soft.)
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.