Molasses Spice Cookies

Viking Christmas
According to, I am 84% Scandinavian. This is no great revelation because I grew up amongst of a bunch of very tall, sometimes grumpy, frequently loud, frustratingly stubborn, hard-partying Vikings on both sides of the family.

Holidays with this crowd as a kid were a lot of fun because no one loves barely controlled chaos more than a kid. The adults had different views. I thought it was great.

My grandmother was one of nine kids born to a couple of Danes who found themselves in California at the turn of the 20th century. Though they embraced their new country and refused to speak in their native tongue once they arrived, they did manage to keep a few of their traditions going.

We still have Ebleskiver every Christmas morning, though how my great-grandmother managed to feed that many people with one pan that only makes 7 at a time boggles my mind. (We continue to use her pan but have added a couple more.) And we still enjoy treats with a lot of the traditional warming spices of winter: cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, cardamom, and, of course, ginger.

I love a good chewy ginger cookie. But, I really only eat them around Christmas time, so they are, in fact, a treat. In all honesty, these wouldn’t qualify as a traditional Danish cookie except for the spices, though I don’t think Julemandon (Santa Claus) would object to these being left for his midnight snack.

Glӕdelig Jul!

Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yields about 22 cookies

These Molasses Spice Cookies have a nice crisp edge and soft interior. The warming spices and molasses flavor make them perfect for your holiday cookie tray.

1/3 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup full strength molasses
1/2 cup or more Demerara sugar

Preheat the oven
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375º F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup Demerara sugar in an 8 or 9-inch cake pan. This is for dipping the cookies in for extra crunch.

Mix the dry ingredients
Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl until ut us thoroughly combined. Set the bowl aside

Mix the butter and sugar
In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with both the brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

Add the wet ingredients
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the egg yolk and vanilla. Then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated (about 20 seconds).

Next, reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the molasses. Beat until fully incorporated wheel scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula (about 20 seconds).

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet
Reduce the mixer speed to the lowest setting. Add the flour mixture and beat until it is just incorporated scraping down the bowl (about 30 seconds). Give the dough a final stir with the rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at the bottom. The dough will be soft.

Form the cookies
Using a tablespoon measure, scoop a heaping tablespoon of the dough and roll them between your palms into 1-1/2 inch balls. If you find that the dough sticks to your palms as you shape the balls, moisten your hands occasionally in a bowl filled with cold water and shake off the excess.

Crop a ball into the cake pan with the sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss the balls in the Demerara sugar to coat and set them on a prepared baking sheet with about 2 inches of space between them. Repeat the forming process with the remaining dough.

Bake the Molasses Spice Cookies
Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are browned, still puffy, and the edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft (about 11 minutes). Note that the cookies will look raw in between the cracks and appear underdone. Rotate the baking sheet, front to back, halfway through baking. Do not overbake the cookies. They will appear slightly raw and underbaked when first removed from the oven.

Cool the cookies
Cool the cookies on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Then, using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.


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