A reader email asked: “How do I get a nice fluffy, cracked top molasses cookie?”
Frustrated with molasses cookies that “come out very flat” even after adding a teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe, the reader wants “a nice cracked top molasses cookie. Like my grandma used to make.”
Well dear reader, while I’ve never tasted your grandma’s molasses cookies, you’ve asked the right home-cook hack with a weekly cooking column. I love molasses cookies and was waiting for the right time to give the No Budget Cooking Series treatment to Grandma’s Molasses recipe for Molasses Crinkle Cookies.
The company has grandma in its name. While crinkle doesn’t pop up in a thesaurus search of cracked, I think we’re after the same top-of-the-cookie esthetic. With those two factors combined, I like the chances that these are the cookies the reader is looking for.
Molasses Crinkle Cookies
Servings: About 48 cookies
¾ cup shortening, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup molasses
2¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
Sugar for dipping
Mix shortening, sugar, egg and molasses. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill dough.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts, dip tops in sugar. Place sugared side up on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle cookies with 2-3 drops of water each for a cracked surface.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
(Recipe from Grandma’s Molasses)
TASTING NOTES: Spicy sweet. Slightly soft. Scrumptious. These meet all expectations of what I want from classic molasses cookies.
EQUIPMENT: Mixing bowl, three measuring cups, three measuring spoons, wooden spoon or electric beater, spatula, tablespoon or cookie scoop, and baking sheet.
PRACTICALITY: Measure, mix and bake. It doesn’t get much simpler. Just budget at least an hour of chill time for the dough.
HACKS/INSIGHTS: I like molasses for more than cookies, I add it in my pumpkin pie filling and occasionally to homemade barbecue sauce. For this test I used Grandma’s unsulphured original strength. In other brands this might be labeled light, sweet or mild. If you want to dial down sweetness and boost bitterness, use molasses labeled dark, robust or full flavor. Do not use molasses labeled backstrap — unless you’re playing a trick on unsuspecting folks reaching for these treats.
Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts? OK Grandmas, I get that you’re going for old-school authenticity with the “gold standard since 1890” tagline on the bottle, but I haven’t had a whole walnut in the house since 1970-something when my parents regularly stocked unshelled nuts in a bowl/nutcracker set. For cooks born after 1980 needing a relevant size reference, form dough into 1- to 1¼-inch balls.
I sprinkled water on alternating batches of cookies but didn’t see a notable difference in cracked tops. I was pleased with the crinkles upon the tops of the cookies. Not wanting to leave any crumb unturned when it comes to molasses cookie artistry, I checked with the culinary team at Zuppas Café and Catering in Neenah, who make lovely cracked molasses cookies. Nope. No special techniques to get the cracked top. They even sent a photocopy of cookbook page with the recipe. It’s the same as Grandma’s.
Shortening may be the not-so-secret ingredient to creating cracked tops. I suspect shortening also boosts these cookies’ fluffy factor. I didn’t bake a batch with butter instead of shortening so I can’t say 100% that this is the key ingredient to solving my reader’s quest. However, shortening produced thicker and visually superior cookies in a previous head-to-head test of chocolate chip cookie recipes.
ASK ME CULINARY QUESTIONS OR TEACH ME YOUR RECIPES: Several readers sent emails asking if I left out egg or oil as an ingredient in the pumpkin spice muffin recipe. Nope. It’s as simple and easy as stirring together a cake mix, pumpkin and splash of water. Please keep sending your questions, feedback and recipes you’d like reviewed. I’m always happy to consider a family favorite recipe (regardless of its consideration as part of the No Budget Cooking Series).
More: Chocolate chip cookie recipes: Nestle vs. Crisco. Which is better depends on what you want
More: Enjoy pumpkin pie filling in the form of muffins with this No Budget Cooking Series recipe
More: Easy recipes tested and reviewed here. Follow these links to past No Budget Cooking Series stories
ABOUT THIS SERIES: I test recipes found on food packages in my very average kitchen with my moderately above average cooking talent and meh presentation skills. I’ll provide some insights and basic cooking tips. If you don’t find these stories useful, hopefully you find them entertaining.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Grandma’s Molasses recipe delivers on its crinkle top promise for these molasses cookies | No Budget Cooking Series