This summer has been a good one. One for the books, even. Full of travel: I feel as though I haven’t spent a week at home in my own bed in months. I’ve driven a Jeep up into the chilly, rainy mountains of Whistler, taken sunny runs around Vancouver’s Stanley Park, gone swimming in the ocean off the coast of Maine, cried a little at my friends’ wedding in Chicago, eaten sticky buns in Vermont, and tried my first soju cocktail in the fading sunset in Napa.
The occasional days in New York City have been hot and humid. It’s the sort of heat that invades your personal space, pressing up against you like an unwelcome (and sweaty) subway companion. Sonoma was in the high 90s, Portland was steamy and warm, and even Vermont wilted under oppressive heat.
So, I think I’m feeling ready for fall. I love summer: the feeling of tan, freckled skin and lemonade and beach days and iced coffee. But when you do it right, come September you’re happy and tired and ready for cool breezes, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and soft, oversized sweaters.
In anticipation (and to help you bridge the seasonal gap), you can make these ginger molasses cookies. They’re filled with thoroughly autumnal spices and will make your kitchen smell properly of fall. Chewy and caramelized in the center, they will come out of the oven looking puffy and cake-like. Mere moments later, they will fall and flatten. Don’t worry about that! It’s a good thing. The final texture is really fantastic, and the bits of crystallized ginger in the dough makes them even chewier.
NB: I have another molasses cookie (an exceptionally chewy, sweet version that uses applesauce and no fat and is rolled in raw sugar), which I always thought could not be trumped. But this recipe is right up there with it. I'll share the other one this fall when I'm making it more than a normal person really, truly ought to, because that is how I roll with cookies.
Some might find the ingredient list off-putting: black pepper, espresso powder, and two kinds of ginger. The flavor is far less aggressive that you’d expect, so just have a little faith. If you don’t have all the spices called for, just use whatever you have. I’ve skipped the ginger and cinnamon on occasion and still loved the cookies. They are spicy enough to taste good regardless.
Also, I'm planning on making ice cream sandwiches with lemon gelato next time I make these, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you follow suit.
Spicy Ginger Molasses Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap!)
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon espresso powder
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, salt, and baking soda until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the molasses, scraping down the bowl, and mixing well. Add the flour, oats, crystallized ginger, salt, espresso powder, and all the spices. Mix until well-incorporated.
The dough will be pretty soft, so I like to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop balls of dough onto the baking sheets (about 1 1/2 inch in diameter), leaving a few inches of space between each ball as they will spread.
Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes, or until just golden brown on the edges. The centers will look very under-baked. Let the cookies cool on the rack for a few minutes until they firm up enough to move. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool entirely.