Molasses Cookies are a long-standing favourite in my family. These ones are adapted from a very old recipe. They include buttermilk (or “sour milk”, as was originally indicated) to keep them soft. Glazed them with a sweet vanilla icing, if you like (I sure do!).
My grandma always welcomed three pm with a cup of weak tea and something to satisfy her self-described “sweet toot”. (That’s “sweet tooth” with a French-Canadian accent.) She especially loved anything with heady, warm spices.
I’m sharing her soft-baked, spiced molasses cookies today and remembering her. Not just her love of sweets (a trait she inarguably passed on to the next three generations), but her flowery blouses with one tissue always stuffed in the breast pocket and another up the sleeve.
Her endearingly untameable permed hair, which she dyed grey to the hilarity of my teenage self (she thought white hair made her look old).
Her kind, piercing blue eyes peeking from behind the curtain as I walked up her driveway. Her thousand-watt smile beaming at me when she opened the door and ushered me to her table.
The twenty-dollar bills she’d stuff in my hand while urging hoarsely, loudly, and with spit flying, “SHHH, don’t tell your grandpa!”. (She’d think she was whispering but was half-deaf. Luckily grandpa was just slightly more deaf than she was, so her secrets were safe from him.)
I made her cookies with the help of my new KitchenAid stand mixer sifter and scale attachment. I joined the team of KitchenAid Makers in the spring and THIS is the attachment I have been waiting for all year. I almost always bake using weights rather than volume for precision (and to dirty fewer cups). This genius attachment weighs, sifts and neatly funnels ingredients right into the mixer bowl for consistent mixing. Bonus: it doubles as a countertop precision scale. I am totally in love with it.
As my kitchen fills with the overlapping warm scents of cinnamon, ginger and cloves, I remember the warmth of grandma and I wonder if her own mother loved these cookies, too?
I don’t know anything about my great-grandmother, except that her name was Amelia, she was French, and she had 18 children. (Let the last bit sink in.)
Wishing both women were by my side today dropping cookies onto a pan. Sitting down with me for tea and telling me stories of their lives. I’d hang on every word. Why do the ones with the most interesting stories to tell leave us before we’re old enough to appreciate them?
At least I have grandma’s recipes and my imagination to fill in the gaps.
Soft Ginger Cookies with Icing
- 3/4 cup soft butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup fancy molasses
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tbsp soft butter
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup cream or milk
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon to sprinkle (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the molasses and buttermilk, pausing occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk (or sift) together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to the molasses mixture and beat on medium speed until combined.
- Drop by teaspoonfuls 3" apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes, until they've lost their sheen and have a slight bounce when gently pressed.
- To make the icing, stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl (I use my hands to work the butter into the confectioners' sugar). Use a spoon to frost the cookies while they're still slightly warm for a glaze effect. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.