Oh hey there fellow cookie monsters, did these ^^^ catch your eye?
Well of course they did, I mean, look at them! Soft and chewy molasses cookies with a hint of orange, a tingle of cardamon, and the subtle warmth of ginger.
Sweet-tooth, milk-dunkin’ snacking has never been so yummy.
And even if there are some not-so-wholesome ingredients in there we are still making them from scratch so we know exactly what we’re putting in. There’s no sneaky additives, preservatives or added sugar disguised under one alias or another.
None of that stuff.
And, I may just add, processed sugar or not, these cookies are waaaaaaayyy better than anything you would pick up from the supermarket.
I’m not a baker. Cakes, biscuits, cookies, meringues and other such stuff is like a foreign language I learnt back in high school; I can understand small snippets of it but the rest is like Double Dutch .
It is a scary language with so many unknowns.
However, in the last year or so, I have been experimenting with baking (having a food blog will do that to a person). Baking bread has been the main focus of this attempt to decipher and master this strange culinary language and, I have to admit, my bread making attempts are slowly getting better and better. But, for everything else in the baking world, I generally keep my scaredy-pants self away.
There’s no need to be too eager.
If I ever do decide to make, say, a cake, or cookies it is usually on a whim. And then I’m all about crossing fingers and leaning on dumb luck for things to turn out right.
Spoiler alert: they rarely ever do.
I mean, things taste great: A Mississippi Mud cake is ALWAYS going to taste great (you can’t go wrong with chocolate + bourbon, am I right?) no matter what it looks like. So when MY Mississippi mud cake has a huge sunken hole in the middle and is collapsing at the sides it may not look like the most appetising of things but, scoop that baby up in a spoon and shovel into mouths and…. please sir, can I have some more?
And when I try to make a traditional Norwegian Kransekake (a perfect example of which can be seen here) and it turns out looking like something that has been exposed to radioactive waste. Yet it tastes delicious; it’s soft and chewy and almond-y and has had the thumbs up from several people.
So my general rule of thumb is that unless the proposed cake/biscuit/ cookie/ sweet treat is not going to be eaten by anyone other than the Paramedic and I (or very close friends and family), I won’t be making it.
But I’ve decided to try and change things up a little and these cookies are the first in line for improving my baking skills. And boy was that a challenge.
I think I’ve made these cookies about 15 times now all in the name of trying to perfect this recipe. After a lot of taste testing (tough life!) I have finally found it and, hopefully, it is foolproof (or as fool proof as baking can be when you have variations in ovens, flours, eggs, butter etc….. I told you, I find this whole baking thing really scary!)
Anyway, in trying to create what I think is the perfect cookie – soft and chewy and full of delicious flavour that has you returning to the cookie jar again and again – here are a few little pointers that I have discovered….
THE COOKIE DOUGH
Baking cookies is a delicate art and what I’m about to say is probably going to break every rule and standard of it but, after 15 batches, I found that – for this recipe at least – this was the way to go…
Once you have mixed all the ingredients together you are looking for a consistency that is somewhere between batter and dough. It shouldn’t be runny or have any liquid-like form about it, yet it shouldn’t be a dry dough that can easily be removed from the bowl and rolled out with a rolling pin.
Instead, it should be a wet and sticky dough like consistency that sticks to the side of the bowl but can also be scooped up and folded into a firm – albeit slightly sticky – ball.
To adjust for different types of flours and other variations the recipe calls for 300 – 450g of flour. It is best to start with 300g and slowly increase the amount until you have the desired consistency as I’ve said above.
(ps. it also hales that, when you are scooping out the cooking dough and moulding into balls, that your hands, and any other utensils you use, are wet. This stops the dough from sticking to you and making a big sticky, cookie dough mess.)
THE BAKING/ COOKIE SHEETS
Depending on the size cookies you want, this recipe can make anywhere between 10 to 22 of them so it is inevitable that you’ll be baking in batches.
It is very important that, for each and every batch, the baking (or cookie) sheet you place the raw cookie dough on is at room temperature.
If you place raw cookie dough on a hot baking sheet – that’s just come out of the oven cooking the previous batch – the bottom of the cookie will start cooking before the rest of it and, by the time they’ve been in the oven, the baking would have been extremely uneven and you’ll end up with cookies that have hard and crispy bottoms.
That’s not a perfect cookie!
COOKIES GOING FLAT
If there is one piece of advice I can give to you it is this: ALWAYS COOK A TRIAL COOKIE(S)
Yes, before you bake an entire baking tray’s worth of cookies always cook one of two cookies together first. This way you can see how much they spread when baked (if at all), how much they rise, if you need to cook them for a longer or shorter amount of time in your oven, etc.
My first batch was not a trial batch. I squeezed 12 cookies onto a baking sheet and, after 15 minutes in the oven, I was left with one giant cookie; they had all spread out flat and smooshed into one another.
Flat crispy cookies are not good cookies! A giant, flat, crisp cookie is nothing short of disastrous.
If you find your cookies do spread out and become flat during your trial bake, place the bowl of raw cookie dough in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes or until the dough has become chilled and firm. Then continue with the recipe as normal.
AND THAT’S ABOUT IT…
That’s about as much help, guidance and hand-holding this amateur, sporadic home baker can offer. From here it is all down to you, the recipe, the ingredients and – if you’re a wary baker like me – a pinch of courage and a whole swoop of luck.
And if you have expertise, experience (or all that luck) on your side then get ready to devour the softest, chewiest, spice-tingling molasses cookie you’ve ever had – or your money back!
Of course, if you are a pro cookie baker (or seasoned baker in general) and have any other advice, tips, tricks or other cool little anecdotes that would make even better (and even more fool proof) then please (please, please, please) share in the comments below!
Orange, Ginger, and Cardamon, Mollasses Cookies
Prep Time: 15 mins || Cook Time: 12 mins (per batch) || Makes: 10 – 18 cookies
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- 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 100g Light brown sugar
- 200g / 1/2 cup Molasses
- 125ml / 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- Grated rind of 1 orange
- 1 egg
- 450g all purpose, unbleached flour
- 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat you oven to 200°C / 390°F
- In a bowl stir together the flour, ginger, cardamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside
- Beat together the butter an brown sugar until fluffed and creamy. Beat in the molasses for another thirty seconds followed by the egg, orange juice and orange rind. Stir in the flour mixture until a sticky dough like consistency is formed
- Scoop out heaped tablespoon measures of the dough and lightly roll in your hands to form a ball (it helps if your hands and measuring spoon are kept wet). Place the ball on a lined baking bak and press lightly with the palm of your hand to flatten it slightly.
- Continue with the rest of the mixture , keeping the cookie balls about 5cm apart (you may have to bake in two or three batches)
- Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove for oven and wait five minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire wrack to cool.