Sugar-topped Molasses Spice Cookies
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch (small or not so small) of cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
about 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and pepper.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes or so to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If some flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, to avoid overbeating the dough, mix in the last of the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. You'll have a smooth, very soft dough.
Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the sugar in a small bowl. Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball between your palms. One by one, roll the balls around in the bowl of sugar , then place them on one of the baking sheets. Dip the bottom of a glass into the sugar and use it to press down on the cookies until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops feel set to the touch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, if the cookies have spread and are touching, use the edge of a metal spatula to separate them while they are still hot. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
The cookies will keep for at least 1 week in the cookie jar. Wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
My notes: I left the pepper out of my cookies and really didn't miss it. They had a nice bite from the ginger, backed up by the molasses, and that was good enough for me.
To shape my cookies, I took one half of my chilled dough and divided that in half, then in half again and so on until I had 16 pieces. I rolled and flattened them as per the recipe.
I baked them for 12 minutes and when they came out, they were still slightly soft to the touch, but firmed up nicely as they cooled. They do spread as they cook (mine were on average 3 1/2 inches across) so don't crowd them on the baking sheet.
Pairs Well With
From "Baking: From My Home To Yours"
by Dorie Greenspan