Recipe: Chewy Molasses Cookies with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

Recipe: Chewy Molasses Cookies with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

Faith Durand
Oct 27, 2010

We've all been in eager cookie-baking mode this month! Why, just yesterday we had Rebekah's warm, soft pumpkin spice cookies, and Megan's review of these scrumptious oatmeal raisin cookies from Flour. Now, my own favorite fall cookie: Simple molasses cookies, chewy and spicy, with a light swirl of crunchy lemon glaze.

I have a thing for molasses cookies. Well, anything with the dark flavor of molasses, really, riding that ragged edge of bitterness. But I especially love molasses treats when they are paired with a bright, tangy note of lemon. They set each other off so well, and this time of year, when citrus is reentering its season and the dark spices of the holidays begin to scent our kitchens — well, this is just what I want to bake.

I wish these photos could convey how soft and melting these cookies are. They aren't the oily, sugary chewy cookies that often appear this time of year; I love those molasses crinkles too, but these are a little more wholesome-tasting. They also can be made very well with some whole wheat flour. These have some heft, and some chew, and they stay soft for days.

The glaze is a new one for me. I often make molasses cookies with a lemon filling. But that is a little more time-consuming, and with this recipe I wanted something simpler. I found this crunchy at David Lebovitz's blog, with his recipe for zucchini cake.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze - From David Lebovitz

This glaze has a particular charm in that is not just made from fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar (Tangy! Fresh!) but it also has a dose of crunchy granulated sugar. So once the glaze hardens into a shell over the cookie, there is a double crunchiness of the sugar. It's really yummy: Small, soft cookies, with an initial snap and tanginess of lemon and sugar, giving way to the melting softness of the cookie, and the last, lingering spiciness of fresh ginger and just a pinch of black pepper.

Yes, these are just what I want to eat this time of year.

Chewy Molasses Cookies with Crunchy Lemon Glaze
Adapted from More-With-Less. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

For the molasses cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2-inch knob of fresh ginger, finely grated or juiced
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Granulated sugar, for rolling

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two large, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter with the olive oil, molasses, and brown sugar. When it is fluffy and lightened, add the egg and whip until smooth. Whip in the grated ginger and its juice.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, powdered ginger, and black pepper to the butter mix. Stir with the paddle until thoroughly combined. The dough will be quite soft. Put the dough in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour, or up to 3 days. (This dough can also be wrapped and frozen. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.)

Pour about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. When the dough is stiff enough to handle, separate it roughly into four parts. Divide the first part into 12 walnut-sized chunks, and roll each into a ball. Roll the ball lightly in the sugar, then place on the baking sheet. Repeat for the others, and the second quarter of the dough.

Bake the first two sheets of cookies for 12 minutes, swapping each baking sheet from the upper to lower rack (and vice versa) at the 6-minute mark. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies with a spatula to cooling racks.

Repeat with remaining dough. While the remainder of the cookies cool, make the glaze. Dribble the glaze over the cookies in a thin swirl, using a fork, or paint it on with a pastry brush. Let the glaze dry and cool on the cookies until hard. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.

For the lemon glaze:
2 lemons, juiced (about 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar

Whisk the lemon juice together with the granulated and powdered sugars. Use immediately.

Related: Recipe: Mini Molasses Cookies with Lemon Filling

(Images: Faith Durand)

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