Molasses Spice Cookies

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The Perfect CookiesThe best molasses spice cookies combine a homespun crinkled appearance with a chewy texture and a deep, gently spiced molasses flavor. We tested the three main kinds of molasses in our dough and liked two of them equally: light (or mild) and dark (or robust). Light molasses imparted a mild flavor, while dark had a stronger presence, so the choice is up to you. (We found blackstrap molasses overpowering and bitter.) A modest amount of dark brown sugar boosted the sweetness and added strong caramel notes. To complement these assertive sweeteners, we needed a powerful yet balanced team of spices. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and black pepper provided warmth and just enough bite, and a spoonful of vanilla smoothed out any rough edges. When rolling the balls of dough, we found that dipping our hands in water prevented the dough from sticking to them and also helped the granulated sugar adhere to the dough balls. For the best texture and appearance, be sure to bake the cookies one sheet at a time and pull them from the oven when they still look substantially underdone. (They will continue to bake and harden as they cool, with the insides remaining soft and moist.)

  • Yield: 24 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups (11¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 0.33 cup packed (2⅓ ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 0.33 cup (2⅓ ounces) granulated sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mild or robust molasses
How to Make It
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt together in bowl.
  2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and ⅓ cup granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in molasses until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds (dough will be soft). Give dough final stir by hand to ensure that no flour pockets remain.
  3. Spread remaining ½ cup granulated sugar in shallow dish. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls with your dampened hands, then roll in sugar to coat; space dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. (Dough balls can be frozen for up to 1 month; bake frozen dough balls in 300-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.)
  4. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are set but centers are still soft, puffy, and cracked (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet for 10 minutes. Serve warm or transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
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