To me, early December equals cookie making. Every year, I plan a new cookie lineup, mixing classic recipes with new discoveries. I will be sharing my favorites from this year every day this week, so come back often for your daily dose of holiday cookie inspiration!
I chose this first cookie because it reminds me of the mountain of molasses cookies my grandma used to make over the holidays. Watching her roll out so many of those comforting cookies had a hypnotic effect on me, and I always stood close for the chance to snatch raw cookie dough. Those cookies – they were just as good raw as they were baked!
It’s been years since I’ve baked with molasses. It’s such a nostalgic ingredient; just the smell of it brings me back to my grandma’s house during the holidays. The addition of spices and freshly grated ginger makes this treat stand halfway between the molasses cookie and the gingerbread, and the lemon glaze gives them an irresistible kick. They are absolutely perfect with tea.
Molasses Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Makes 48 cookies
For the cookies
½ cup [125 ml] unsalted butter, or dairy free buttery shortening, room temperature
¼ cup [60 ml] olive oil
¼ cup [60 ml] dark molasses
1 cup [250 ml] brown sugar, packed
2-inch [5 cm] knob of fresh ginger, finely grated or juiced
2¼ cup [560 ml] flour
½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt
2 tsps [10 ml] baking soda
1 tsp [5 ml] cinnamon
1 tsp [5 ml] powdered ginger
1/8 tsp [pinch] freshly ground black pepper
Granulated sugar, for rolling
For the lemon glaze
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tbsp [30 ml] fresh lemon juice)
3 tbsp [45 ml] granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 350°F [175°C]. Line two large, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter or dairy free shortening with the olive oil, molasses, and brown sugar. When it is fluffy and lightened, add the egg and whip until smooth. Whip in the grated ginger and its juice.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, powdered ginger, and black pepper and mix well with a whisk. Add to the butter mixture, stirring with the stand mixer until thoroughly combined. The dough will be quite soft. Put the dough in the fridge for at least ½ hour, or up to 3 days. (This dough can also be wrapped and frozen. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.)
Pour about ½ cup of granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. When the dough is stiff enough to handle, separate it roughly into four parts. Divide the first part into 12 walnut-sized chunks, and roll each into a ball. Roll the ball lightly in the sugar, then place on the baking sheet. Repeat for the others, and the second quarter of the dough.
Bake the first two sheets of cookies for 12 minutes, swapping each baking sheet from the upper to lower rack (and vice versa) at the 6-minute mark. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies with a spatula to cooling racks.
Repeat with remaining dough. While the remainder of the cookies cool, make the glaze by whisking the lemon juice together with the granulated and powdered sugars. Dribble the glaze over the cookies in a thin swirl, using a fork, or paint it on with a pastry brush. Let the glaze dry and cool on the cookies until hard. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to two months.