When I lived in a veg cooperative house in college years and years ago, we ordered everything in bulk. Occasionally, someone would mess up their math and accidentally order things like 5 gallons of organic blackstrap molasses without blinking an eye. I’d be shocked if the canister wasn’t still sitting in the pantry to this day. As seemed inevitable at the time, a couple of friends and I spent a night doing a little molasses face-painting — and in case E ever forgets the regrettable night she chipped her tooth with an inverted cross slowly dripping down her cheek, I’ve even got the embarrassing photographic evidence to prove it. Let’s just say we were very creative. So I speak from experience when I tell you the stuff is absolute, bloody HELL to remove. Seriously: hair and molasses do not mix!
This recipe was a favorite of my grandmother’s, so I was brought up making molasses cookies on a regular basis. They’re spicy and a change of pace from the usual chocolate and nut suspects, while simultaneously easy on the wallet. Though I’ve seen cookies like these referred to as gingersnaps, these don’t taste like the light, sweet, gingery, crunchy cookies you’d buy at the store; they are instead soft, chewy, and more intriguing to the palate, receiving their flavor mostly from molasses and cloves.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can give these classic cookies an extra special something by folding in some crystallized ginger and rolling them in ginger-infused sugar. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it on hand, though, because these cookies are scrumptious on their own.
I’ve always been partial to blackstrap molasses, which, as the name suggests, packs a ton of flavor into these cookies. Incidentally, it contains a good amount of vitamins and minerals (including calcium!), while other kinds of molasses do not. The trick to pouring out molasses is a greased cup — just measure out the molasses in the same cup you used to measure out the oil and you’ll be good to go without the ridiculous clean-up (assuming you’ve also forgone the face-painting party).
- 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
- 3 tbsp warm water
- ⅔ c vegetable oil
- ¼ c blackstrap molasses
- 1 c brown sugar
- 2 c flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ c diced crystallized ginger, optional
- granulated sugar for coating
- In a small bowl, beat together flax and water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together oil, molasses and brown sugar.
- Add flax mixture and beat until smooth.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, spices, soda and salt.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients; mix well.
- Fold in crystallized ginger, if using.
- Refrigerate, covered, until firm, 2 hours or overnight. It’s fine if some oil separates; you can just stir it back in later.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Shape dough into 1″ balls; roll in sugar to coat.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets.