Every Christmas my mom makes soft molasses cookies, rolled in red and green sugar. I didn’t really appreciate the molasses flavor of these cookies until a few years ago, but now I love them. They are especially good with coffee (I know, I seem to say that about all cookies), and I have to admit, I have the bag of these stashed away in the freezer for whenever I need a little pick-me-up.
Because these cookies freeze so well, you can make them early in the holiday season. They’re easy to make and require only ingredients that are fairly standard at this time of year. Incidentally, they are also B’s favorite cookie, so when my mom packs up holiday goodies to send back with me, she loads his container full of molasses cookies. I asked him once why he likes them so much.
The response? They taste like Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream (his favorite). And Steep –n- Brew’s Oatmeal Cookie coffee, a flavor they only release for a few short months each year.
A few months back, I asked my mom for her recipe. I thought it would be good to have on hand, for times when I want to do something nice for my friend, and make his favorite cookies. Recently, I took out my mom’s recipe to bake a batch of cookies.
But something strange happened. When I took the cookies out of the oven, they didn’t look quite right. They were a lighter color, the outside a bit more crispy. These cookies were more chewy, less soft. I studied the recipe again to make sure I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I had followed it to the letter.
So when my mom was visiting, I gave her a cookie to try. She agreed that they did taste different, but still good. We started to discuss the recipe. I had used non-hydrogenated shortening, and though I never experienced different results from it in the past, it was the only thing I could pinpoint as being different. She kind of looked at me, and said she doesn’t make them with shortening, she’s always used butter or margarine.
But the recipe calls for shortening! I followed it exactly! We had a good laugh, and she apologized for not being more specific. No worries…now we know what to expect with this variation.
Mom’s Soft Molasses Cookies*
¾ cup non-hydrogenated shortening or butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup mild molasses
1 egg, well beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
small dish of sugar**
Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking sheets.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add molasses and egg, mix well.
With mixer on low, slowly add flour until blended.
Shape dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
*If the dough seems too soft for rolling, refrigerate for an hour before shaping.
**If desired, roll in red and green sugar for Christmas