Welcome back, friends! We are now almost halfway through the Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. This week, we’re bringing you bake number 46—Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies.
Happy November everyone! (And for you holiday fanatics like myself, Happy official beginning to the holiday season!) This week we baked, in my opinion, the perfect cookie! It just so happened that Claire’s video for the week on her YouTube channel was for this bake as well…. like to think it’s because she is following along with Julia and I and wanted to do us a solid.
Speaking of the holiday season, there is nothing I like more than a gingerbread cookie. The combination of spices and the warmth of the ginger and molasses is just something I will never get tired of. So I was so excited to make this cookie! And it did not disappoint.
This is a very simple cookie to make, with a large payoff. The most time consuming part is chilling the dough before baking. I gotta say, chilling cookie dough has become one of the greatest life lessons I have learned from this experience…it just makes the cookie so much chewier!
The dough comes together by creaming the brown sugar and butter together in the stand mixer, then adding eggs, molasses, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and finally all your dry ingredients. The spices used for this cookie include ginger, all spice, cloves, and black pepper. The sticky dough is then separated into two equal halves, wrapped, and then chilled.
Once the dough has chilled (I left mine overnight), you can then divide the dough and bake. I separated the dough into 1oz balls and then coated them in Demerara sugar (yes, I bit the bullet this week and actually bought legit Demerara sugar). The balls are spaced evenly on the baking sheet and then baked in the oven for about 12-14 minutes.
This amount of dough makes A LOT of cookies, so I had to do this in stages, making sure I placed the dough balls I wasn’t baking back into the fridge so they wouldn’t get too soft.
The baking was where I had a bit of a snag: in the video and in the cookbook, Claire’s cookies come out with these beautiful large creases along the top, which still look shiny and a but underdone when removed from the oven. For whatever reason, I didn’t get a lot of cracks in my cookies. I thought that perhaps it had to do with my Demerara sugar, which was a bit heavier than traditional raw sugar. So I did a batch with less sugar coating, and then one with no sugar coating at all. Progressively each time, I did get more cracking along the top, but nothing remotely like what I saw in the book. I was a bit bummed, but that feeling soon went away once I tried a cookie.
This is my perfect cookie, hands down. It is so chewy and soft and the flavour hits in all the right places. The black pepper really adds a nice kick at the end of each bite. I am a huge fan and everyone I have shared with has asked for the recipe! 5 stars for me! Even though this recipe made so many cookies, I don’t think I’ll be able to save any for Christmas so I guess I’ll just have to make more 😉
In other news, I have made my fruitcakes! They are currently nestled inside of their beds, and will be taken out each week to be fed brandy (not a bad life). Stay tuned!
*Shoutout to my friend Taylor for letting me use her new phone to take high quality photos this week*
My little freezer stash of Christmas cookies just got a bit bigger with this week’s bake! I love anything with warm spices and molasses, and gingerbread always brings those wonderful nostalgic holiday feels, so I was pumped to take a crack at this recipe!
Normally I am a “crispy gingerbread cookie” over a “chewy gingerbread cookie” kind of girl, but in general I love a good chew on a baked good, so Claire’s method and results were spot on. This recipe was quick and easy to put together: first, mix all the dry ingredients together (a brilliant spice combo of black pepper, cloves, all spice, and ginger in this bake—mad props from me on this because, call me crazy, but in terms of warm spices I would rank clove high above any day!).
The other ingredients come together in gradual stages in the stand mixer—brown sugar, butter (which has been melted and then cooled to room temp to help with overall texture of the final cookie), molasses, eggs, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and eventually the dry ingredients. You end up with a pretty sticky dough, which is typical of a gingerbread cookie; the dough then chills in the refrigerator to firm up before shaping. I left mine in the fridge for a couple of hours while I did some other errands, and then came back to finish the bake.
I’ve always had a pretty loose approach to scooping/shaping cookies, but after measuring out the specific amount Claire called for in the book per cookie, and seeing how beautifully uniform all the cookies came out, I will never go back! Working with a cold dough and making sure each ball of cookie dough measures an equal number of grams is key to getting that perfectly circular bake, and man is it ever satisfying to pull them out of the oven! I rolled each ball in raw sugar before baking, and the end result was a pretty, crackly, shimmery top.
The one thing I couldn’t figure out with this bake is why some of my cookies ended up with more of a crack on top than others. I had two baking sheets in the oven at a time, and rotated them halfway through like the recipe suggests, but for some reason the tray of cookies that started on the top rack ended up with more prominent crackling than the tray that started on the bottom rack. If anyone has any idea why, holler at your girl.
Overall, these had the most delicious flavour, a unique hit from the pepper, the most ideal texture, and such a gorgeous overall look. I can’t wait to serve these to friends and family over the holidays. It’s another 5-star bake from me!
Next week, we’ll be baking Aunt Rose’s Mondel Bread.