For me, the flavor of molasses says Christmas like no other. Since I was a small child, my family's favorite holiday cookie has been a rolled and glazed gingerbread variety from the Betty Crocker cookbook that my mother acquired as a newlywed.
When she went back to work, I took over making the cookies. Over the years, they've become favorites of additional family members and all our kids. Decades after I first tackled the recipe, I still make several dozen to ship to family outposts along the West Coast, going through about four bottles of molasses each December.
That recipe can be found at sacbee.com/ holidays look for "gingerbread cookies" and my name.
But for this column, I wanted to try something else using molasses. I haven't done a dipped cookie in a while, and the combination of molasses and spices with a white candy coating sounded festive. The recipe here was adapted from several sources.
White-dipped molasses cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes plus chill time for dough
Bake time: 10 minutes per batch
Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup dark molasses
Two 12-ounce packages white baking chips or vanilla Wilton Candy Melts
1/4 cup shortening
Jimmies, sprinkles or other decorations, optional
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Stir in the water and molasses. Mix about one-third of the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture, then a second third, and then the last third, blending each time.
Chill the dough 1 hour or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop out dough and shape into walnut-size balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly with moistened fingers.
Bake 10 minutes, until set. (Cookies will puff up, then flatten out.)
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
To dip: Melt the white chips or Candy Melts with the shortening in a small pan over low heat, or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave on 50 percent power, stirring frequently to make sure all the chips are melted.
Dip half of each cookie into the melted chips, scraping along edge of pot or bowl to remove excess coating. Place on wax paper to harden. If desired, sprinkle jimmies or other decors over the dipped part before coating hardens.
Per cookie, using white baking chips: 180 calories (77% cal. from fat) 8.5g fat (5.8g sat., 0 trans fat); 13 mg chol.; 83 mg sodium; 24g carb.; 18g sugar; 2g pro.
TESTING AND TASTING These cookies are like chewy gingersnaps. To save about half the calories, skip the coating; a little sprinkling of white or sanding sugar before baking could be substituted.
You don't have to use parchment paper with these, but if you put the dough right on the baking pans, don't grease the pans first.
I used regular, not insulated, baking sheets for this recipe.
The technique tested here was the dipping. Half the test batch was dipped into melted white baking chips (sometimes called white chocolate chips) and the other half in vanilla Wilton Candy Melts (available at craft stores and some supermarkets).
The dip from the Candy Melts was thicker and whiter; the coating looked creamier on the cookies. But the white baking chips which are more cream-colored produced a coating that was a little easier to work with. There was almost no difference in taste.
Having a small spatula nearby when doing the dipping helped I used it to "flow" the coating around the cookie when the dip got low, and to help scrape excess coating off the edge.
Tasters in the newsroom generally liked the cookies, but there were some critics:
"Very tasty. Icing almost overwhelms the molasses flavor, but still delicious." "A molasses cookie for people who don't like molasses cookies." "Love the ginger cookie! The frosting is a little too sweet." "Fantastic chewy cookie/frosting half of the cookie is a great idea. Not too sweet." "Yum! Delicious cookie flavor contrasts nicely with icing. Wish I had some coffee for dipping." "Nice addition to the classic molasses cookie repertoire." "Good eatin'! " "Love the icing. Want more molasses flavor." "Oh, for a cup of tea and a good book."