Yesterday I shared the first cookie I included in my Secret Baker package and today I'm back to share the second. I knew I wanted to send my recipient a cookie made with molasses since it's such a holiday staple. I briefly considered making the TWD molasses spice cookies that were selected last month. My recipient is not a member of TWD so I figured there was a good chance she hadn't tried the recipe and those cookies were tasty! However, I have a thing about not repeating recipes - I rarely do it unless I have to - because my list of recipes to try is so long.
Ultimately, I decided to try this Cook's Illustrated recipe for soft & chewy molasses spice cookies. It's very similar to the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours so I was curious how the results would compare. (I didn't remake Dorie's version so I'm basing my comparison on my recollection of those cookies - maybe someday I'll have time for a true side by side comparison.) In the taste category, I couldn't pick a clear winner. I really enjoyed the flavor of both cookies! The CI cookies were perfectly soft and chewy; I think I preferred their texture just a bit to the ones from Baking. Other benefits of the CI recipe were that the dough did not have to be chilled after mixing and before baking so I saved some time and the CI cookies retained their shape a bit more in the oven. That said, I don't think you can go wrong with either recipe if you want to make delicious molasses cookies this month!
Soft & Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
from Cook's Illustrated
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses, light or dark
Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in a shallow, wide bowl.
Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.
Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball. Roll ball in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake if you want the cookies to be soft and chewy.
Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.