Christmas just ended a few days ago, and with it, the fervent cheer of the season. I was too busy being cheerful (binge-watching Modern Family starting with the last season) to work through any blog stuff, so this post may be late, but let’s face it…it’s never too late for cookies. And in my family, winter means cookies upon cookies upon cookies.
My mom’s side of the family has a special butter cookie recipe that we’ve made almost every year since I can remember, though we didn’t have time to make them this year. I tried making them on my own in Japan last December and they were just a step short of disastrous. They’re essentially butter with just enough flour and sugar that they won’t melt and burn all over the cookie sheet, and then you frost and decorate them. Or in my case, you bite the legs off and re-enact gruesome scenarios with the people-shaped cookies.
A couple years ago, I started trying to building up a base of cookie recipes, adding one or two more every December and compiling them all. That all went out the window when I killed my old blog, so I started over from scratch two months ago. Take a look at the first few cookie recipes of The Kitchen Klutz Blog: easier chocolate chip cookies, cardamom shortbread, spiced and salted chocolate chocolate chip cookies.
The over-thinker and over-planner that I am, I had considered adding two or three new recipes this past week, but to be honest, I could only manage one. And it wasn’t even until after Christmas. I did make the chocolate chip cookies and a test batch of molasses cookies, as well as a failed batch of chocolate whole wheat muffins, before Christmas Eve. One of those ended up in the trash, one has since been devoured, and one is still in a tupperware container. You guess.
I made three different versions of the molasses cookie recipe, but because the original recipe, which came from my favorite cookbook, Flour (by Joanne Chang), was already flawless (and my batch came out really well), I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to change to make it my own. And after much hemming and hawing, I figured it out:
The original recipe had a surprising lack of cardamom. I also changed out half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour to see if it would give the cookies a fuller flavor. I had to cut back on flour because whole wheat flour is drier than all-purpose, and the cookies turned out a little bit firmer, but it really did work with the molasses flavor. And naturally, cardamom. Anything with cardamom is a plus in my book, even though the spice costs more than my arm or my leg.
cardamom molasses cookies
based on molasses cookies from Flour, by Joanne Chang
makes 40 small (2 tsp) cookies
6 oz unsalted butter, softened
180 g light brown sugar
60 g dark molasses
2 large egg yolks (~30 g, or ~1 oz)
140 g all-purpose flour
130 g whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
granulated sugar for coating
crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, etc., if desired
Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat together butter, molasses, brown sugar and egg until fully combined.
In a separate medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and spices.
Combine the dry and wet mixtures, pouring the flour into the wet mixture, until fully combined. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap, or transfer everything to a container, and chill for at least a few hours until it firms up. The cookies bake better when you put them in the oven cold.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Don’t use wax paper. I learned this the hard way.
Using a soup spoon or medium-sized cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and roll into balls. Pour about 1/4 c granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and roll the dough balls around in it to coat with sugar. Place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Whole wheat flour is drier than all-purpose, so these don’t spread as much as the original recipe.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the cookies crack on top and are just starting to firm up. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet on top of a wire rack. You can store them for up to 3 days at room temperature in a container, or in the refrigerator.
They’re best softened a little bit in the microwave.
Feliz Navidad, y’all.