Everyone in my family, kids and adults, pronounced these "five-star" and "superb." They're wonderful; enjoy! The recipe below has my typical extensive prep notes, which might help for your bake sale b/c you'll have to make a lot.
* Exported from MasterCook *
Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
Serving Size : 48 cookies
Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 cup granulated sugar, estimated amount -- for dipping
24 tablespoons unsalted butter -- softened but still cool; 12 T = 1 1/2 sticks
4 2/3 ounces granulated sugar -- noting that 2 1/3 oz = 1/3 cup
5 ounces dark brown sugar -- noting that 2 1/2 oz = 1/3 cup packed
22 1/2 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour -- noting that 11 1/4 ounces = 2 1/4 cups--and doubled (3-sticks-butter, 48-cookie) recipe = 1 lb. 6 1/2 ounces flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup molasses -- light or dark, noting that 1/2 cup by volume is about 6 ounces by weight (but separate cup for volume is easiest here); see Notes on molasses choice
Pull out butter to soften, but don't let it get to room temperature.
In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown
and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3
minutes. (Can make 3-sticks-butter recipe in one big batch; use four
cookie sheets and two ovens, as the cookie dough warms up & gets a little
harder to work with as you proceed.)
Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until
thoroughly combined; set aside. Adjust oven rack to middle position and
heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets (per 22-30 cookies or so)
with parchment paper. Place sugar for dipping into a wide pan or soup
Reduce mixer 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 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 (I used my stainless-steel scoop in medium size,
filled and then leveled off against the side of the bowl), scoop heaping
tablespoon of dough and drop it from the scoop into the sugar (if rolling
by hand; roll into 1 1/2-inch ball). Toss balls in sugar to coat and set
on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart (I get 12
balls per cookie sheet, but can ooch some over to get 14 if needed, such
as on the last tray). Repeat with remaining dough. If you find that the
dough sticks to your palms as you shape the balls, moisten your hands
occasionally in a bowl filled with cold water and shake off the excess (I
didn't have this problem with my scoop).
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, for 6 minutes, then turn sheets,
then 5 minutes. (If baked two sheets at a time, the cookies started on the
bottom rack won't develop the attractive cracks. I didn't follow Cook's
advice the first time, thinking that baking two sheets at once couldn't be
that big a deal--it was. All the cookies tasted great, but only the ones
on the top rack looked pretty.) *** Bake cookies until they 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.
The cookies should look slightly raw and underbaked when removed from the
oven. *** If you plan to glaze the cookies (see recipes for Rum Glaze or
Orange Essence in the cookbook), save the parchment paper used to bake
them. NOTES ON BAKING 48 COOKIES IN 2 OVENS: This is my recommended
method. You're just running two ovens instead of running one oven twice as
long. Fill the first cookie sheet; place it into an oven; set timer for 6
minutes. Meanwhile, fill the other cookie sheet, place it into the other
oven, and set a different timer for 6 minutes. If you're fast, the first
timer will still have time remaining; begin filling the third cookie
sheet. When the first oven's timer goes off, rotate the cookie sheet & set
the timer for 5 minutes. Continue filling the remaining sheets as you
juggle timers, rotating, and then a separate timer for the 5-minute
post-baking rest. Baking 4 dozen cookies is quite easy this way. I
actually get 50 cookies out of the so-called 48 cookie recipe.
Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide spatula to transfer
cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. Or let
the kids wolf them straight from the cooling racks, while the cookies are
still warm and fragrant. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight
container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days, but they're so good you
may not have any leftovers at all.)
"Dry, tasteless molasses cookies belong on a Christmas tree, not in a
cookie jar. We made more than 50 batches to find the best recipe for
an uncommonly soft, chewy cookie with warm, tingling spices."
"Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking 2006"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 139 Calories; 6g Fat (38.1%
calories from fat); 2g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber;
24mg Cholesterol; 82mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat;
1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
Serving Ideas : Instead of 22 cookies, I got 29; need to make them a little larger next time (fill the medium stainless-steel scoop a bit more).
NOTES : REGARDING MOLASSES CHOICE: Grandma's Mild = cookies are
rich, balanced, not bitter. Grandma's Robust = too bitter.
Brer Rabbit Mild Flavor = lovely color, fruity, great.
Brer Rabbit Full Flavor = Richer color and flavor, not
bitter, great. Blackstrap = bad choice. I made these with
3/4 Grandma's Mild plus 1/4 Brer Rabbit (not sure which;
it was my neighbor's) and the flavor was exceptionally
Rarely do I come across a recipe that makes the house
smell as good as this one does. Mmmmm.
If you're afraid of butter, use cream. ~~ Julia Child
As you cook, you enjoy omniscience about food that no amount of label reading can match. Having retaken control of the meal from the food scientists, you know exactly what is in it. (Unless you start w/cream of mushroom soup, in which case all bets are off.) To reclaim control over one's food, to take it back from industry & science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time, cooking from scratch qualifies as subversive. ~~ Michael Pollan