I have a thing for chewy cookies (FYI, you know, in case I wasn’t clear enough about my chewy cookie love in my chocolate chip oatmeal cookies post.)
If you like spicy baked goods, you can’t go wrong with these cookies, made with lots of cinnamon, ginger, and molasses. The molasses adds a robust flavour to the cookies, giving a bittersweet taste that compliments the spice.
What is Molasses?
Molasses, a common ingredient in gingerbread or ginger cookies, is a byproduct that is made during the extraction and processing of sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets. The “sugar juice” that is extracted is boiled to promote sugar crystallization, and this process gives us molasses. There are different types of molasses, depending on the extent of processing or whether or not sulphur is used as a preservative (sulphured vs. unsulphured molasses.) The further into the sugar refining process, the darker the molasses. Light molasses is from the early stages and therefore has a higher sugar content (i.e. a lot of the sugar hasn’t yet been crystallized.) At the other end of the spectrum is blackstrap molasses, which is really dark and much more bitter than light molasses. There is also dark molasses, which is in between light and blackstrap molasses in terms of darkness and sweetness. The cookies in the photo for this post, are fairly light in colour because all I had on hand was fancy molasses (lighter and sweeter.) Normally, I make these cookies with dark molasses which gives a much better colour and stronger flavour (I guess I’m not a fancy kind of lady.)
The molasses, along with the honey and sugar in this recipe, is responsible for the chewiness of these cookies. By adding syrup, honey, or molasses to a cookie dough, you are adding a liquid sweetener. Adding this moistness to the dough is what prevents the cookies from being dry and crunchy. This is also why it is important to not over bake cookies if you want them to be chewy: the longer the cookies bake, the more moisture is lost due to evaporation. Sugar also plays a major role in cookie chewiness due to its hygroscopic property. This refers to sugar’s ability to attract water from its surroundings. Have you ever heard of that trick for softening up brown sugar by enclosing it in a bag with a slice of bread? After a while, the sugar softens up and the bread is dried out. This is because the sugar attracts all of the water from the bread. Honey is probably one of the best ingredients to add for chewy cookies because it is even more hygroscopic than sugar. This is due to the presence of fructose (which attracts water more strongly than sucrose does.)
225 g butter, melted (1 cup)
200 g brown sugar (1 cup)
100 g white sugar (1/2 cup)
80 mL molasses (1/3 cup)
80 mL honey (1/3 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Extra white sugar for rolling cookies
Add melted butter, sugar, molasses, honey, salt, and flavourings to a bowl and mix until blended.
Beat in egg.
Sift together flour and baking soda.
Add flour to mixture and mix until completely uniform.
Roll dough in hands into 1 inch circles. If you are finding the dough difficult to work with, you may chill the dough for approx. 30 min. Roll in white sugar and place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 F (205 C) for 7 min.
Be very careful that you don’t over bake these cookies. They won’t be fully set when they come out of the oven but will set up as they cool. If you happen to over bake them by accident, you can seal them in a bag with something that has moisture (such as bread or apple slices.) Due to that hygroscopy we talked about, the sugar and honey in these cookies will suck up moisture from their surroundings, making the cookies chewy again.