Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Spicy-Sweet Treat: Chewy Molasses-Ginger Cookies


There are few things that mean "fall" to me more than ginger snaps. In particular, Sweetzel's Spiced Wafers, the birthright of any southeastern Pennsylvania child, are specifically responsible for my Pavlovian response.

[Editor's Note: Ivins' Spiced Wafers, another Pennsylvania classic, are a fine choice as well.]

I can remember eating giant stacks of them with glasses of hot apple cider at both my grandparents' houses; the best ones were those that were just a little stale, when they'd lose their snap and get just a little chewy. Due to my love of the wafers (particularly the soft ones), I've been trying to develop a good Molasses-Ginger Cookie recipe of my own, combining and enhancing my favorite parts of the original.

Well, I think I've done it. These cookies not only provide that great chewy texture, they turn the volume way up on the spice level -- the distinct, peppery "heat" that will be sure to win the heart of the ginger-lover in your life.

I'm very proud of these -- dare I say it, I might even prefer them to the original.

Chewy Molasses-Ginger Cookies
Makes a few dozen, depending on size

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
4 Tablespoons Ginger Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 and 1/2 inches fresh Ginger Root, grated
1 stick Sweet Cream Butter, melted
3/4 cup Light Molasses
1 Egg

Place all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, salt) into a large mixing bowl.

Add the egg, molasses, sugar, grated ginger, and melted butter to the bowl. Stir until just mixed. The dough will be very, very loose.

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter. Pour the dough in a line along the center of the plastic wrap, wrap the sides around it, and, working through the plastic, attempt to form the dough into a cylinder-like shape.

Place the cylinder on a cookie sheet, and place the sheet into the freezer (if in a rush) or fridge until it becomes firm (an hour in the freezer, three in the fridge).

Once the dough is firm, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the log of dough, unwrap it, and cut 1/2" slices from it. If you don't feel like making all of the cookies at once, re-wrap the unused dough back up and place it back in the freezer; it keeps forever, and you'll be able to whip together fresh-baked cookies at a minute's notice.

Place the slices on your cookie sheet about two to three inches apart -- they will spread out.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they're softly set (they will continue to firm up as they cool). Allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes (or as long as you can keep your mitts off of them). The final product:

These are remarkably easy to make -- if you can toss things into a bowl and stir, you can tackle these cookies. I do suggest you make extra (double the recipe!) and keep the extra dough in the freezer; there's nothing better than coming home on a chilly, drizzle-laden night, turning on the oven, and having the wonderful, spicy, intoxicating aroma of fresh-baked cookies flood your house. If you have these on hands, that experience will never be more than 10 minutes away.

Be sure to come back and join us next week! See you then.

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  1. I made these tonight! They're fantastic!

  2. I'm glad you liked them! I liked that you added crystallized ginger -- certainly an underrated ingredient, and one that would be very much at home in these cookies.

    Thanks for posting!


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