My new office in Baltimore is right next to one of the city's long-time landmarks. Every day as I drive in to work, I am treated to the rich smell of cooking sugar at the Domino Sugar plant next door.
At first, I found the fact that my formerly industrial office complex (it was used to make Tide, Palmolive, and Ivory soaps back in the day) smelled like brown sugar cookies to be quite amusing. After a while though I found that a need was building up in me to make something that smelled as good as the sugar refinery next door. Then I noticed that on the other side of our building were several two-three story high tanks.
I figured they were filled with some horrible petrochemical, but was informed by one of the native SoBo's (South Baltimorean) that the tanks contained molasses. Molasses! and thousands of gallons of it!
Well that did it for me, and the result is this fine batch of cookies you see above.
The deep rich flavor of molasses is offset by the spice of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and just a little white pepper. You can use black pepper in yours, if you wish. I think the white pepper grinds more finely.
The recipe as written below is not subtle, but I like my molasses cookies to be bold. If you want yours to be more subtle, back down the spice a little and use half white and half brown sugar instead of the all brown sugar mix I use.
4 Cups AP flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs, beaten
small bowl of granulated sugar for rolling
Preheat the oven to 350 F and put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
Mix all the dry ingredients together (and yes, I know ginger isn't really dry, but pretend for now and mix it in the same bowl). Makes sure the spices, soda, and salt are well distributed in the flour.
In a mixer, cream the sugar and butter together, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. With the mixer running, slowly add the eggs and then slowly add the molasses. Mix until well combined, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Slowly add the contents of the dry bowl to the wet mix and mix until throughly incorporated. You should be left with a slightly sticky dough.
Roll balls of dough 1.5" - 2" diameter in between your palms. Roll the ball of dough in the bowl of granulated sugar and place it on the cookie sheet, 2" apart. You can use a coarser brown or raw sugar for this purpose, but the white sugar adds just a touch of sweetness needed to finish the cookies.
Bake in the 350 F oven for 12-14 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let sit for five minutes or more before eating. Repeat with rest of dough.
For presentation, sprinkle powdered sugar over cookies before serving.