You would never know it is the middle of June. At least not if you live anywhere near me. The famous line “It rains 9 months of the year in Seattle” is holding true. So far this month we’re running below average for temperatures (hovering near the mid 50’s…for a HIGH) and above average rainfall. Higher than normal for the Pacific Northwest means lots and lots of wet dreary days. It looked so much like mid-September out there today, I got the urge to make one of my favorite fall cookies.
I’ve wanted to recreate a treat I had over the weekend anyway, and the weather cooperating was a good excuse to do it sooner rather than later. While I was away last weekend, I stopped in four different bakeries to sample some goodies. Research you know. All for you.
These cookies are heavily spiced with cinnamon, cloves and ginger with a soft chewy texture that is absolutely glorious. Perfect for warming you inside when it is all grey and gross outside. For those of you who live where webbed feet are not a side-effect of your address, think of me huddled in a sweater as you enjoy one (or three) of these cookies with a nice glass of frosty-cold milk. Perfection.
There are a couple of tricks to getting perfectly craggly tops on your morsels of molasses. First, chill the dough. Second, do not overbake these. Mine were perfect right at 12 minutes in the oven. You want the edges to be just set, but the tops to still be all puffed up. As they cool down, you get those gorgeous cracks.
Finally, the secret weapon. Flicks of water. Yes. I know, it’s crazy. I read this in a cookbook years ago. After you’ve rolled your dough in sugar (to give it that beautiful crystallized finish), wet your hands slightly. Then, holding your hands over your baking sheet, pretend there’s a wasp flying into your face. Bzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzz.
Protect yourself! Shake your hands around like a bit of a maniac, flinging water droplets on top of the cookies. Seriously, these are the kinds of things I do when baking. Also when a bee gets near me. One of the plus sides of the Seattle weather is the limited number of nasty bugs. Wasps are pretty much as menacing as they come around here. Your children (or husband) may think you’ve completely lost it as you flail around in the kitchen, but your cookies will look fantastic when they’re done. And if that isn’t worth a little ridicule, I don’t know what is. Bake and enjoy!
Ginger Molassas Cookies
Adapted from Paula Dean
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the shortening and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and molasses and beat until completely incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt and add to the mixture. Stir until combined.
Chill in fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
Roll the dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Roll the balls in sugar. Place 2-inchs apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingertips. Wet your hands and flick water droplets over the cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes until set at edges but still puffy. Cool on 10 minutes on cookie sheet (set on rack, not on the counter). Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.