There are many times in the kitchen when I want to put my own spin on things. And then there are times when you don’t mess with a classic. Think: Ottolenghi’s hummus. Jim Lahey’s bread. Ree Drummond’s Lasagna. Not surprisingly, many of my “don’t mess with it” recipes come from the geniuses at Cooks Illustrated. With their scientific approach to finding the best methods in the kitchen, their recipes are often instant classics. The Molasses-Spice Cookies featured in their 1999 cookbook, The Best Recipe, certainly falls into that category. (Side note: There is a new version of the cookbook aptly titled, The New Best Recipe. I don’t know if this particular cookie is featured in that edition.)
I’ve been making these cookies for over 10 years and I can honestly say, as long as you don’t over bake them, they will turn out perfectly every time. I love the spicy and not too sweet blend of flavors and their perfectly crisp outer edges with a lovely chewy center. The dough comes together quickly in a stand mixer and the smell of these gorgeous cookies in the oven will fill your house with the most wonderful smell! The cookies stay soft and chewy for days after baking, which is perfect for a make ahead treat. One word of advice: Don’t skip the confectioners’ sugar glaze – it is both a great flavor complement to the cookie really makes a visual impact!
The only tweaks I’ve made to the recipe is to make sure I err on the side of generous measurements of the vanilla and salt, as I’ve found that most baking recipes only benefit from the slightly heavy hand in those two ingredients. Be sure to line your cookie sheets with parchment or a silpat and set your timer – you definitely do not want to over bake them.
What are your classic cookie recipes? Are you a fan of chewy cookies or do you prefer some crunch? We’d love to try some new classics over here so send us your favorites via email or social media!
- 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling cookies
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup unsulphured molasses
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the racks on the upper and lower mid-position.
- Whisk together the flour, baking solda, salt, and spices and set aside.
- In a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, ½ cup of the granulated sugar for about 3 minutes, or until light and creamy.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and molasses, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds, until just combined.
- Place the remaining granulated sugar in a shallow dish.
- Using a spoon or cookie scoop, divide the dough into approximately 2 tablespoon portions and roll into balls.
- Roll the balls in sugar and place them on your cookie sheet, giving them 1½ to 2 inches of space.
- Bake 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheets in the oven about halfway through, until the outer edges just begin to set.
- Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
- When the cookies are cooled, drizzle with glaze (see recipe for glaze) and allow to set.
Whisk together 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.