Before you write off this chewy molasses cookie recipe because you think you don’t like molasses, please listen to writer and former BA staffer Jesse Sparks: these old-fashioned cookies are “so much more complex-tasting than they seem they should be, with punchy hits of cinnamon, a kiss of cardamom, and the zing of ginger, all backed up by just-the-right-amount-of-bitter molasses.” The treacly syrup keeps soft molasses cookies magically supple for days, making them a perfect candidate for cookie swaps and leisurely holiday breaks.
The recipe is also one of the simplest holiday cookie recipes, with very little prep time and no mixer required (not even a hand mixer!). You can get nearly all of your work done in the time it takes to preheat your oven. A cookie scoop isn’t necessary but comes in handy for making even-sized dough balls that you’ll roll in sanding sugar for a glittery finish before placing on the cookie sheet and baking (or freezing for later).
If you’re new to buying molasses, keep in mind that there are several types, including blackstrap molasses, and sulfured and unsulfured varieties. We prefer unsulfured for baking; sulfured molasses has a smoky backbone (great for barbecue, not so much cookies). Choose mild molasses for a lighter flavor or a robust, dark one for something bolder.