Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tasty Treat: Molasses Cookies

Like everyone else who lives in New York knows, the City Bakery makes the best cookies. While their chocolate chips are perhaps most beloved, I happen to think their molasses cookies are even better. Soft and chewy with a nice spicy, ginger-molasses bite, they are everything I want in a cookie. Unfortunately Maury Rubin hasn't revealed his cookie secrets so I have to try every other recipe in the world and tinker with them until one day maybe I'll hit pay-dirt.

I won't mention the disappointments except to say there were those bland recipes, those cakey recipes and those that I just had to wonder what they were thinking and how did they get published. However, after much research, I do think I've found something close, not perfect mind you, but close. Cook's Illustrated magazine and their website are both great resources if your looking for a recipe that's been tested and tinkered until it finally gives in and says uncle. I've rarely tried a recipe from them and been disappointed. In fact, maybe I never have.

Yesterday, in preparation for a playdate, I decided to give their Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookie a go. I tinkered just barely and what came out of the oven was pretty darn good: a strong molasses flavor with a mild spice and a nice chewy texture. Of course, after a few hours, the cookies weren't as insanely chewy as the City Bakery cookies are and they were perhaps a little sturdier than I would've like, but this recipe is going in my keeper file until I unlock the secrets of the City Bakery. Enjoy!

Molasses Cookies
(These cookies are incredibly easy to make and the batch isn't very large so you won't feel like an incredible pig for more than a couple days. I made 2.5 inch cookies and got eighteen cookie altogether.)

What You'll Need:
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2-2.5 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 allspice
several turns of fresh ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
1.5 sticks cold butter cut into pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar plus extra for coating the dough
1/3 cup dark brown or muscovado sugar
1 large egg yolk
1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses (I didn't use blackstrap, but I plan on testing with it some time soon!)

Preheat the oven to 375 and line your baking sheets either with silpats (which I adore) or parchment paper (which also works very well). In a large bowl combine the flour, spice, salt and baking soda. Mix well and set aside.

In a mixing bowl add the butter and sugars and set on the mixer. Start a low speed and, once things look pretty well combined like they won't fly out of the bowl, set the mixer to medium-high. Let it go for about two or three minutes or until everything looks light and fluffy. Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides and set it to low. Add the egg yolk and mix until combined. Then add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and turn up the mixed to medium just for a few seconds and then turn it to low again. Add the molasses (I coated my measuring cup with vegetable oil to make it easier for the molasses to slide out.). Once everything is well incorporated, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Turn off the mixer, remove the bowl and mix the dough a few times by hand being careful to make sure you get every last bit mixed in.

To make the dough balls, take an ice cream scoop or spoon (I use a 1.5 inch diameter scoop) and scoop out equal sizes dough balls, roll them between your palms just to get them into true balls and toss in a bit of sugar. Place the balls on the cookie sheets 2-3 inches apart. I only baked six cookies per sheet. Bake them in the oven for 12 minutes if you're making 1.5 inch diameter dough balls like I did, but adjust the time depending on the size. You'll know they're ready when their surfaces break out in crackles and the crevices beneath still look a bit underdone. Cool them on a rack and then enjoy!

Approximate Dinner Cost:
Groceries: $6
Cost per Meal: It's hard to gauge the exact cost, but I think this is right. There should be 9-12 servings, but um, there were far fewer for us...

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  1. Thanks for posting this recipe. My husband loves these cookies.

  2. These look good. I grew up on my grandmother's molasses cookies which I think are thinner and softer than these, but I like all variations.

  3. I love molasses cookies, especially dipped in coffee. That may sound odd but for some reason those flavors go together for me. Or maybe I just drink too much coffee these days, and that's the addict in me talking.

  4. You had me at "soft and chewy." Those look awesome.

  5. Peggy, You did a terrific job at making these. Although they may not be exactly the same as the ones from City Bakery, I'll be these are even better. And I agree about Cooks Illustrated. It's nice to follow a recipe that's already been tinkered with a zillion times. I've had lots of luck with the ones I've made, so far!

  6. Mathaandme, your grandmother's recipe sounds like the missing link! Could you send me the recipe or perhaps write about it on your blog?? I would love to try them.

    Unplanned Cooking, I too am addicted to coffee (drinking a large iced one right now!). Will have to try dipping the cookies:)

    Thanks so much everyone!

  7. Oh, those look tasty! I tried chewy ginger cookies a couple of weeks ago - maybe these next!

  8. Yum, ginger cookies are among my favorites. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe.

  9. Mmm…these look sooo delicious. As for keeping the chew, I wonder if city bakery uses vegetable shortening? I don’t particularly like vegetable shortening, but I know that subbing half the butter for shortening is a way of getting crisp on the outside and a lasting chew to any cookie. But there may be other ways?

  10. Ooh, Kris, I would love to know which ones you tried!

    About the Book, let me know how it goes!

    Sarah, I wish I knew what they did, but I have to keep investigating! I've never made cookies with shortening. Is vegetable supposed to be better for you than crisco? Uggh. I could even try lard from the market. hee hee

  11. great cookies and congrats on the dot com, have a good weekend


  12. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I really feel hungry!


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