It’s cold today. Well, cold for March, anyway. It feels like Winter is boxed into a corner and swinging, making one last effort not to get knocked out by warmer air, chirping birds, and budding flowers.

This day, with it’s chilly obstinance, deserves a cookie. A soft, chewy, warmly-spiced cookie.

These cookies definitely fit the bill.  The flavor is pretty much unbeatable —rich and earthy with molasses and just the right hint of warm spice from the cloves and ginger. Their wonderful texture is achieved by pulling them out of the oven while the centers are still soft and puffy. As they cool, the centers fall, creating a moist interior and a perfectly cracked, sugary exterior. They’re also the ideal cookie size—big enough that you can be satisfied with just one, but not so large that you feel guilty about eating a few. They’re fun and easy to make with the kids, too. My kids’ favorite part about making these cookies, other than eating them, is shaping the dough into balls, then rolling them in sugar.

Rolling the cookies in sugar gives them a hint of crunch on the outside, especially if you use large, decorative sugar crystals. If you can’t find those, then turbinado sugar works just as well, too.

Of course, like any good cookie, the best part about making them is eating them. They’re wonderful warm, with coffee, tea, a cold glass of milk, or vanilla ice cream. The leftovers store well in an airtight container at room temperature and, theoretically, keep for about a week. In my house, though, they’re usually gobbled up and gone within a few days.

Soft Molasses Cookies

adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

  • 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (to make these dairy-free, I use pareve margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup large sugar crystals or turbinado sugar for coating the dough

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses while mixing at a slow speed, then the baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Shape or scoop the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll them in the decorative or turbinado sugar and put them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. The centers will look soft and puffy, which is okay. As long as the bottoms are set enough to lift partway off the cookie sheet without bending or breaking, they’re ready to come out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 40-ish cookies.