12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Ginger Molasses Crinkles

I wanted to get things started by sharing my go-to holiday cookie recipe. The first cookies I ever baked as an adult were these cookies. This was five years ago, after I had moved to Los Angeles and wanted to pass out plates of cookies to the neighbors in my apartment building.

I didn’t have a go-to recipe at the time, but I knew what I was looking for. I’m a big fan of gingersnaps (I’ll share my family recipe for those later on) but my ideal cookie has to be chewy. I started with a molasses spice cookie, then added more ginger flavor. These cookies are great, because they’re really the best of both crunchy and chewy worlds. Since the cookies are rolled in sugar, the outside crust is quite crunchy (hence the name, crinkle). The interior, however, is still nice and chewy.

This recipe basically takes the traditional molasses crinkle cookie and adds a boatload of ginger – one tablespoon grated fresh ginger and a half cup of chopped candied ginger. That might be a lot, but the cookies aren’t too spicy. Instead, they just have a nice kick.

I usually roll my cookie dough in granulated sugar, but I had some raw turbinado sugar from another cooking project and wanted to try it. Because the raw sugar is in much larger crystals, it changes the crunchy-chewy balance of the cookie and makes it much crunchier. The cookies also spread more, which increased their crunchiness. I learned it’s better to stick with the granulated white sugar.

This recipe makes 36 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening (you want to use shortening because it will make the cookies chewier)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)

Step 1. Set the oven to 375 degrees F, positioning two racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Then grate the fresh ginger and finely chop the candied ginger. The finer the better for the candied ginger, just don’t let it become a solid sticky mass.

Step 2. Beat the brown sugar and shortening together at high speed until creamed. Then add the fresh grated ginger, egg and molasses and beat again. Finally, add the chopped candied ginger and mix until combined.

Step 3. In another bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and dry spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until thoroughly mixed.

 

 

Step 4. Using a small spoon, take a scoop of dough and shape it into a ball – a little smaller than a golf ball. Roll in sugar until no more sticks. Place on a cookie sheet, nine cookies to a sheet. Bake for 11 minutes, cool for five, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

  • Jesse

    These look solid.  I’ll have to introduce you to my family’s Lebkuchen recipe, which dates back to 19th-century Germany.  They’re soft and chewy, full of molasses and brown sugar, with some raisins and chopped citron for texture.  The best part is that you make a ton of dough at once refrigerate it, doling it out batch-by-batch, so you can still be eating fresh Christmas cookies in the springtime.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    • http://themanlyhousekeeper.com Mark Evitt

      I’m really curious to try your family’s recipe. I made lebkuchen for the first time last year, and they were a big hit. 

    • Marilyn

      So, Jesse, I would love to see your family’s lebkuchen recipe!  I ‘m not much of a cookie baker, but yours sounds definitely worth it! How about it?
      (My family has German heritage, but no cookie recipes. Buying the German style cookies in the stores is always a disappointment – too dry and tasteless.)

      • Jesse

        Hey Marilyn — here it is, with all of my grandmother’s original instructions intact, some of which might seem a bit archaic today (i.e. baking with lard instead of butter, etc.).  I typically make 3/4 of this recipe, simply because molasses tends to come in 12 oz. jars these days, rather than pints.  Simply measure out 3/4 of each ingredient, and you’re in business.

        Ingredients:

        1 pt. “mild” molasses (i.e. Grandma’s or Gold Label), heated
        1 stick butter (or 1/2 cup margarine or lard, or a combination)
        3/8 cup sugar
        1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
        1/4 cup citron (chopped fine or ground)
        1/4 lb. raisins (1 cup)
        1/2 cup sour milk (or milk with vinegar added)
        1/8 cup baking soda (dissolved in sour milk)
        rind of 1 lemon (grated)
        1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
        1/2 tablespoon ground mace
        1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
        1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
        4-6 cups flour (enough to make dough stiff)

        Mix ingredients, saving the flour for last.  Add flour in increasing quantities until the dough starts to stiffen – it should still be dark, rich, and fairly sticky, but should begin to be able to be shaped by hand.

        Dust several large pieces of wax paper with flour.  Shape the dough into long rolls, about 2.5 inches thick and 10-12 inches long, and wrap them in wax paper.

        Let the rolls stand overnight or longer in refrigerator.  When ready to bake, slice the rolls with a sharp cutter, each slice about 1/4 inch thick.  Bake at 350°F for about 8 minutes (on the top tray of the oven – don’t oil the pan).  When cool, leave plain or ice with a thin glaze of powdered sugar icing, which is easiest to spread on the bottom.  Store in a covered container in a cool place.

        My dad’s notes below the recipe: “This recipe and Christmas tradition has been an important part of my family experience and that of my mother’s family as she was growing up in Kansas.  She assumes that her mother learned it from my mother’s grandmother, who emigrated from Germany to Missouri in the late 1840’s.  She came from a small village about 20 miles southeast of Osnabruck, in the Hanover area of northwest Germany.  This is about 50 miles from the area in which the Brothers Grimm gathered many of their folk tales (Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, et cetera) in the early 19th century.”

        Hope you enjoy!

  • Sweetness

    I’ve made something similar, but they’re called “Chocolate-Ginger Crinkles.”  A recipe from Southern Living from the mid 1990s.  Ground ginger and unsweetened chocolate are the main differences from yours.  I tried making them once with butter because I don’t like shortening, and of course, they were a completely different cookie.  Good, but different.  Your recipe sounds fabulous, and I’ll be trying it soon!

  • Lily

    We finally made these and just pulled out the last tray from the oven.  I just ate my first one and they are delicious!  It was difficult for me to not eat all the crystalized ginger prior to the cooking making though.  Thanks Mark!  

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