Season: All | Active Time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes (includes 1 hour for chilling) | Difficulty: 2 (Easy)
A good molasses cookie should achieve harmony between the sweetness of brown sugar, the bitterness of molasses, and the gentle heat of spices. This cookie does all that, but where it really delivers is the texture: perfectly soft and chewy. The dough can be portioned and frozen ahead of time, making these your all-purpose holiday cookie.
Makes about 42 cookies
Special Equipment: Stand or hand mixer
3¾ cups all-purpose flour (17 oz / 488g)
1 tablespoon baking soda (0.63 oz / 18g)
2½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ sticks unsalted butter (6 oz / 170g), melted and cooled to room temperature
1½ cups packed dark brown sugar (10.6 oz / 300g)
2 large eggs (3.5 oz / 100g), at room temperature
½ cup unsulfured molasses (5.6 oz / 160g)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (0.33 oz / 9g)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup demerara sugar, for rolling
Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, pepper, allspice, salt, and cloves. Set aside.
Make the dough: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until slightly pale, about 1 minute.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the molasses, vinegar, and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until the last trace of flour disappears. The dough will be very soft and sticky.
Chill the dough: Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic, and press into a 6 × 6-inch square. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven and prepare the pans: Arrange two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll the dough into balls: Place the demerara sugar in a small bowl. Remove one square of dough from the refrigerator, portion into 1-ounce (28g) pieces, and roll each into a ball (they should be about 1¼ inches in diameter). Toss the balls in the demerara sugar to coat all over, then place on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart (the cookies will spread during baking). Refrigerate any balls that don’t fit on the baking sheets.
Bake: Bake on the upper and lower racks until the edges are firm to the touch but the centers are still very soft and slightly shiny, 12 to 14 minutes, switching racks and rotating the sheets front to back halfway through. ① Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheets before using a thin spatula to transfer them to a wire rack. Repeat the rolling and baking process with the remaining dough and demerara sugar.
The cookies, stored airtight at room temperature, will keep up to 5 days. The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days. You can also roll the dough into balls and toss in sugar, then arrange them in tight rows on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze solid. Transfer the balls to a resealable plastic freezer bag and keep frozen up to 2 months. No need to thaw before baking, but extend the bake time by a couple of minutes.
① The cookies will look nearly raw in the center when you pull them out of the oven, but they will continue to set as they cool. The key to the soft and chewy texture of these cookies is, simply, underbaking them. If you like a crispier spice cookie, bake them 2 minutes longer.